Monday, September 23, 2013

Tomato Fruit on my Potato Plant?

Walking through the backyard garden inspecting the different plants I was very surprised to find what looked like small tomatoes laying on the ground especially since I didn’t plant any. They were about an inch across and green just like an unripe cherry tomato. How did they get here?  I was stumped.

Tomatoes on my Potato Plant

Then I found some more. Hmm. These were attached to a plant. Did a bird or a squirrel bring in some seeds? Then I brushed the leaves aside further and discovered they were growing out of the end of my potato plants. The more I looked, the more I found. Did I create some weird tomato-potato hybrid? Potatoes are from the nightshade family (Solanaceae) like tomatoes and peppers, so maybe it was possible. I’ve grown potatoes before, but I’ve never seen this fruit. Time to ask google.

Tomatoes on my Potato Plant

After some quick searching, I found that no, I had not created a mutant plant. In fact potato fruit is common on the yukon gold potatoes I planted. The previous years plantings were a different variety, so no fruit.

Tomatoes on my Potato Plant

The potato fruit is not edible just like the potato plant itself. Both contain large amounts of a poisonous alkaloid called solanine which is what makes some of the nightshade family poisonous. I also learned that the Internet recommends against saving the seeds as they won’t grown true to form. Instead, seed potatoes should be used which is what I had planted.

I love how the garden is always teaching me something new.

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