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Solanum lycopersicon

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Fields, wasteland, wetland.

Yellow, 5 petals
5 pointed petals and sepals, starting off pale yellow and turning to deep yellow later in the year.
A large red, fleshy fruit. Green before becoming ripe.
Dark bluish-green, pinnate leaves, 3 to 5 leaflets. Covered densely in velvety hairs.
Entire plant has a very pleasant fragrance.
Other Names:
Garden Tomato.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Solanum lycopersicon, also known as the tomato, is a species of perennial, herbaceous plant in the Solanaceae family. It is native to Western South America and is now widely cultivated worldwide as a food crop. The plant has a sprawling habit and typically grows to around 1-3 meters tall. It produces large, glossy, green leaves and clusters of small, yellow flowers that give way to juicy, red or yellow fruit (tomatoes) which are typically eaten ripe. The tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked and used in a variety of dishes. Tomatoes grow best in well-drained soil and full sun, and can be propagated by seed or cuttings. They are considered as a tender perennial, usually grown as an annual, hardy to USDA Zone 10.


Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicon) are a staple of many diets and have become an indispensable ingredient in a wide range of dishes, from salads to sauces. However, despite their widespread cultivation, the origin of this fruit remains somewhat of a mystery.

In the wild, tomatoes can be found in the South American Andes, where they are thought to have originated. It is believed that the tomato was first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mexico, who have been growing and eating the fruit for thousands of years. From there, the tomato made its way to Europe, where it quickly became a popular ingredient in a variety of cuisines.

Despite its domestication, the tomato still grows in the wild in many parts of the world, and it is these wild tomato species that offer us a glimpse into the evolution of this fascinating fruit. Wild tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, from small yellow berries to large red fruits. They are also much more flavorful than their domesticated cousins, with a tangy, acidic taste that is quite different from the sweetness of the cultivated tomato.

The wild tomato is also much more resilient than the domesticated variety. Unlike the carefully bred and selected plants that are grown in greenhouses, wild tomatoes are well-adapted to their environment and can withstand a wide range of conditions. This makes them ideal for growing in areas with challenging climates, such as deserts, high altitudes, and hot, dry regions.

The wild tomato is also a rich source of genetic diversity, which is vital for the continued development of the cultivated tomato. Scientists and breeders can use the genetic material from wild tomato species to develop new cultivars that are better adapted to different climates and growing conditions, or that have improved disease resistance, flavor, and nutritional value.

The wild tomato is a fascinating and important plant that has a rich history and continues to play an important role in our diets and in the development of new tomato cultivars. Whether you are a gardener, a cook, or simply a lover of all things tomato, it is well worth taking a closer look at this incredible fruit and the role it plays in our world.

Another interesting aspect of wild tomatoes is their role in the ecosystem. Wild tomatoes are an important food source for many animals, including birds, insects, and mammals. The fruit is high in nutrients, providing a valuable source of energy and nutrition for animals during the growing season.

In addition, wild tomatoes also play an important role in seed dispersal. As animals eat the fruit and move around, they distribute the seeds far and wide, helping to maintain the genetic diversity of wild tomato populations.

Unfortunately, many wild tomato populations are under threat due to habitat loss, deforestation, and the spread of invasive species. As wild tomato habitats are destroyed, the genetic diversity of the species is being lost, reducing the pool of genetic material available for breeders to use. This makes it more important than ever to protect and conserve wild tomato populations and their habitats.

There are many ways to get involved in the conservation of wild tomatoes. For example, you can support organizations that are working to protect wild tomato habitats, such as the Wild Tomato Association or the Solanum Project. You can also participate in local conservation initiatives, such as volunteering for a seed-saving organization or participating in habitat restoration projects.

In addition to conserving wild tomato populations, it is also important to support sustainable agriculture practices that protect the environment and promote healthy soil. This includes using organic farming methods, reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and supporting local farmers who use sustainable growing practices.

Finally, by simply enjoying the delicious taste of tomatoes, we can help to raise awareness about the importance of this fascinating fruit and the role it plays in our world. Whether you are slicing them for a salad, making a homemade sauce, or simply snacking on them straight from the vine, tomatoes are a delicious and important part of our diets and our planet.

Tomatoes are also known for their numerous health benefits. They are low in calories, high in vitamins, and packed with antioxidants that help to protect against a range of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and eye problems.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is essential for a strong immune system and healthy skin. They are also rich in vitamins A and K, as well as minerals like potassium and iron. In addition, tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to have a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and age-related eye problems.

One of the best things about tomatoes is that they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, making it easy to incorporate them into your diet. Whether you are adding them to a salad, making a fresh tomato sauce, or simply slicing them for a snack, there is no shortage of delicious ways to enjoy this nutritious fruit.

In addition, there are many different types of tomatoes to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and texture. From juicy cherry tomatoes to meaty Roma tomatoes, there is a tomato variety for everyone. Whether you prefer them sweet, tangy, or somewhere in between, there is a tomato that will suit your taste.

The tomato is a versatile, nutritious, and delicious fruit that is an important part of many diets. Whether you are growing your own, buying them at the farmers market, or simply enjoying them in a recipe, there is no denying the incredible benefits of this amazing fruit. So next time you reach for a tomato, remember all the ways this amazing fruit is good for you and the planet.

It's also worth mentioning that tomatoes can be enjoyed in both raw and cooked form. While raw tomatoes are often used in salads, sandwiches, and as a snack, cooked tomatoes offer a different flavor profile that is ideal for many dishes.

Cooking tomatoes can bring out their natural sweetness, deepen their flavor, and make them easier to digest. They are a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes, such as pasta sauces, soups, stews, and curries. Tomatoes are also often used as a base for other sauces, like ketchup and barbecue sauce, adding a tangy flavor that complements a wide range of foods.

Tomatoes can also be grilled, roasted, or baked for a rich, caramelized flavor. This cooking method works well for dishes like bruschetta, roasted tomatoes, or tomato tarts. When roasting or grilling, it's important to use high-quality tomatoes that are in season for the best flavor.

In terms of storage, tomatoes are best kept at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. This will help to preserve their flavor and texture. If you have ripe tomatoes that you can't eat right away, you can store them in the refrigerator, but this may affect their flavor and texture.

In addition to their culinary uses, tomatoes have a number of other applications as well. For example, tomato juice is a popular drink that is often consumed for its health benefits, and tomato paste is a versatile ingredient that is commonly used in cooking. Tomatoes are also used in cosmetics and skin care products due to their high content of vitamins and antioxidants.

The tomato is a versatile, nutritious, and delicious fruit that is an important part of many diets. Whether you are growing your own, buying them at the farmers market, or simply enjoying them in a recipe, there is no denying the incredible benefits of this amazing fruit. So next time you reach for a tomato, remember all the ways this amazing fruit is good for you and the planet.

Finally, it's worth noting the impact of tomatoes on the global food industry. Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown and consumed vegetables in the world, with a global production of over 170 million tons per year. They are grown in almost every country in the world, with a large portion of production taking place in countries like China, India, and the United States.

The global demand for tomatoes has led to a thriving industry that includes everything from large-scale commercial farming operations to small family-run farms. This industry provides a source of income for millions of people and plays a critical role in feeding the growing global population.

However, the large-scale production of tomatoes can have a negative impact on the environment. The use of pesticides, fertilizers, and monoculture farming practices can lead to soil degradation and loss of biodiversity, while the transport of tomatoes over long distances contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

To reduce the environmental impact of the tomato industry, it's important to support sustainable agriculture practices and to choose tomatoes that are grown locally, in season, and with minimal use of pesticides and other chemicals. By doing so, we can help to protect the environment, support local farmers, and ensure that we have a steady supply of delicious and nutritious tomatoes for generations to come.

In conclusion, tomatoes are an important and fascinating fruit that have a major impact on the global food industry, the environment, and our health. Whether you are growing them in your garden, buying them at the farmers market, or simply enjoying them in a recipe, there is no denying the incredible benefits of this amazing fruit.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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