Black Zebra?

PupillaCharites(FL 9a)August 5, 2014

I've been excited to go to the local places that sell heirlooms.

This 7.4 ounce tomato was in one little display which contained what I imagined to be the Black Zebras (most are probably 1/4 pounders, smallish and have that pixel-like green striping) and perhaps Florida Pink (a wild guess).

So I bought it. It was really filled with thickly gelatinous encased seeds. What do you think it is, a Black Zebra, or could it be Cherokee Chocolate which I kind of hoped for when I bought it?

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Tue, Aug 5, 14 at 19:27

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

See the link at the bottom and you'll see, first it is not an heirloom variety at all as the label said,and second, if you go to Google IMAGES that won't help b'c you don't know what it is,

iF there was no variety name given with the
fruit you bought then it;s an orphan and there';s no way you could ID it and guessing won;t ID it either,

I could put up a list of so called black varieties from Tania's data base, several hundreds, and you still wouldn't know what you have,

So enjoy it ,save seeds if you want to,but it's in the orphan category, (smile)


Here is a link that might be useful: Black Zebra

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 8:34PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Thanks for the great reply! Do you mean Black Zebra is not an heirloom (believe me I know that from reading here)? Or more relevant for my situation, mean whatever that *this particular orphan* may be, that you can safely rule out its being an heirloom?

To be honest the taste was terrible. But I blame WF for that. Today was a bad day. I journeyed across the largest city in the US to "The Fresh Market" supermarket chain we have to see them unbox their Tuesday shipment ... all pre-blush pale green tomatoes. I am quite disgusted and was thinking this could be my lucky day with a Cherokee Purple relative and I should just grow it myself and compare flavor to my memory of this one. If it is not, that will kindly save me from the bother.

You've stuck me humming a song from 2 & 1/2 Men "Save the Orphans" (smile too)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:09PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Labelled as Black Zebra, yes, I can safely rule out that it's an heirloom''And while I know of MANY Cherokee thises and thatses from Cherokee Green to Cherokee Choloate and Cherokee Lime, and on and on the only one that looks and talks and walks as does Cherokee Purple is Indian Stripe, link below,and many prefer IS to CP these days.

About Cherokee Purple. My long time best tomato friend since 1988 has been Craig LeHoullier in raleigh. J D Green sent him some seeds, said they were from the Cherokee Indians and craig named it Cherokee Purple,even though it isn't purple.It's what I call a pink black since it has a clear epidermis as doesBlack From Tula and some others.

Craig sent me seeds for CP and I think I was the first person to grow it. He first listed it ib the SSE Yearbook in about 1992.

When I was first sent seeds for Indian Stripe, see the link below, Craig was the first person I sent it to and he agreed that it looked to him like a version of CP Tania uses the word strain but I prefer the word version,

Subsequent genetic studies have shown that CP was not from the Cherokee, and that by detrming gf( green flesh) and its several alleles(different versions of the same gene,)

You aren't alone in thinking that BZ tasted bad, so does Red Zebra, I'm not that fond of the Green Zebra that Tom Wagner bred but I love Green Zebra Cherry, not known to be related to GZ, named so b/c it looks like it


Here is a link that might be useful: Indian Stripe

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:22PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

First let me close my mouth since my jaw just dropped.

OK. I think I get it. For the posted pic, it's the converse, that is, there is no indication of cultivar name on any label at the POP, and I think in your original reply you addressed that - can't eyeball this accurately enough by pictures alone, LOL but the lousy taste might support my idea that it was BZ ;-)

Most of the history in your second post I had already read including your participation with IS, where I want to thank you for *not* creating more zebra nomenclature ;-) I am definitely not a fan of creating a tomato zoo, especially for the newly minted costume-heirlooms.


Are you suggesting with certainty that Cherokee Chocolate is not exclusively derived from CP? Is there an argument against a single mutation at the "gf" locus you mentioned, to separating Chocolate from CP? Is the clear epidermis vs. a transparent yellow one involving multiple genes and more likely the result of a cross?

Do you no longer believe it possible that origin of your colleague and friend Craigs' first seeds were from some of the mostly defunct black-brown varieties circulating in the mid-1800's in the United States? Has someone linked it to another distant locality (like Philippines or Crimea)?

In tomato mysteries, it seems rather than being the butler, it is usually "some woman"! I wonder if Craig's acquaintance John is still active and if she is still living. And if not, maybe better to look for her neighbor instead...

If there are too many questions, " please answer one more and I'll be pleased!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:37AM
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I've grown Black Zebra and the random striping goes all the way from top of the stem to the base of the tomato, so I doubt the one pictured is BZ. I do agree on the taste...not good at all. I usually grow green and black zebras for the novelty factor but not this year due to space constraints.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:29AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Cherokee Chocolate was a single spontaneous mutation from the clear epidermis of CP to a yellow one.

The link below, post by Mulio ,gives the classification of some varieties based on gf allele analysis,

As for alternative explanations as to where CP came from, yes, there are several theories and many threads here and there that have suggested that Phillipines #2 was the source, seeds sent to the U of now I forget which one in the south that "escaped" from there, but also seeds sent to a researcher in Canada.

And no, the Phillippine one was not widely distributed in the US,

I know of no one who has suggested that CP came from the Crimea which many think the first so called Black ones originated from.

Craig has been in touch with John Green on more than one occasion and John can no longer locate the woman who gave him the seeds that the variety CP was named from.

I think I covered all your questions from your latest post above and it is a complicated story. The gf analyses are not complicated, pretty straight forward, and I have link after link referring to this situation, but no way can I include them all here, or take the time to fetch them from my faves to do so, but I think my brief answers do summarize the major points.


Here is a link that might be useful: gf genetics

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:44AM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Donna, thanks for your experience growing BZ. Since I'm assuming Carolyn would laugh me out of the forum if I sent her seeds for some grocery store tomato like this, if you want to play with this to grow I'd be glad to send you some nice seeds from it to compare with your black tomatoes. Can't beat the price ;-) If I were sure it were BZ or some non-heirloom I wouldn't want it, but since I never grew BZ before and it looked different (but not different enough) in a pile of what had the classic BZ look IMO. The seeds do seem to have had a thick green gel as the Black Crimean tomato. I'll grow it after all and see if it makes jagged longer zebra stripes like you normally see.

Carolyn, As you've said, maybe the professor from the U of Ark was a Cherokee. Sevierville is 550 miles from me, so if I ever get bored I'll go Cherokee (tomato) hunting, if in fact the mystery woman and her neighbor were from the area, which is a little detail omitted from the description.

That is a great study referenced in the link you kindly provided and I can only say you helped me beyond my dreams, so please know that I value your advice and am very excited to read your replies to me and everywhere else. My only wish is the study referenced had done more than apparently restrict research to specifically gf alleles, and had the resources to look at markers that could separate the varieties rather than the hypothesis of the single black gene. I don't know about you but to me there seems far more to this story and 5 "recent" spontaneous mutations doesn't smell right at all to me, and based on that argument I would think multiple gf alleles have been around much longer than to suddenly express this degree of divergence, unless something simpler would have happened to see it at the phenotype level. Don't worry, I'm going to read a copy of the original paper and get a more complete idea about their experiments and results.

You are one classy oracle. Thank you so much. I promise to hold off on Thomas Jefferson (the man) until my head starts splitting LOL, this thread will not be about him. BTW, I heard TJ hid his Cherokee ancestry among many other things ;-)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:53AM
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