It's supposed to be a type of tomato - BUT

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by GartenZwiebel, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. GartenZwiebel

    GartenZwiebel Member

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    I think it's deadly nightshade instead. I am a plot owner at Colony Farm Community Gardens in Coquitlam. One of the other members asked me to help identify this particular plant that she received from a friend who stated that it was a tomato and very delicious.

    My first thought was "nice friend, she's trying to poison you." It looks just like deadly nightshade. She insists that the berries are sweet and taste like tomato - indeed she said she consumes whatever amount of berries the plant produces.

    I have attached some photos. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    Could it be a small-fruited eggplant cultivar?
     
  3. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    What kind of tomato is it supposed to be?
    There are hundreds of varieties, we grow a range of colours in our garden, dark purple tomatillo, russian krim (brown), some orange, some yellow, I might have a red type, but I don't think so.
    The deadly nightshade in my yard has a smaller fruit, but it could be that it different when it is pampered.
    Carol Ja
     
  4. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    I have heard of small edible purple fruited solanums before. There was something that Luther Burbank marketed as a Wonder Berry, I think it was usually used for jellies and cooking. Related to tomatoes and physalis.

    I think your plant could be Solanum melanocerasum or a close relative. Take a look at this link:
    http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/garden_huckleberry.htm
     
  5. GartenZwiebel

    GartenZwiebel Member

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    Thanks for all the help. It sure seems like it's the Garden Huckleberry/ Wonderberry. I guess I'll try a couple and see just what they're all about.
    Karin
     
  6. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    Can you contact the person who gave you the seeds to verify where they came from and if the plant in your garden looks like what she has been eating from hers? If you can track down the original source you may feel safer about trying them. The plant really does look a lot like deadly nightshade in the fruit, but the plant's form is different. Given the situation in which they came to you they are likely edible, but it is good to try only small amounts of new things in case of allergies or sensitivities.

    I think the link I posted above is one of the few (perhaps only) commercial sources of this plant out there, so I wonder if they may be the source. They also deal in other rare garden food and herb plants.

    Let us know how they taste. I am always interested in new foods. There are so many edible plants in the global flora, yet we commonly consume so few of them.

    I do have to stress caution with sampling new plants however. Take care to ID the plant or grow from a trusted source and try only small amounts of new things in case of allergies or sensitivities. Take even greater care with wild plants.
     
  7. finngreen

    finngreen Member

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    We had deadly nightshade in the yard when I was growing up in Toronto and it didn't look as sturdy as that (of course it's hard to tell from a photo). The leaves also had a very characteristic smell (again, hard to tell from a photo!)

    Some of the small seed companies are selling all kinds of weird edible Solanum species. This does sound like Luther Burbank's Wonderberry or Sunberry (Solanum burbankii) or a close cousin called "Chiquelite" or "Morelle noire" in French (Solanum nigrum). My catalogue from La société des plantes in Kamouraska, Québec, says the fruit of both of these can be eaten raw or cooked, but ONLY WHEN RIPE.

    What a family! Everything from deadly nightshade to eggplant to peppers to ground cherries, with strange flowers like ebony shoofly thrown in. Apparently there's something called a "spiny tomato" that you need gloves to pick but that tastes like lychees... Wild!
     

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