Potatoes, Nightshades and Tomatoes

yumtomatoes(10a/FLA)September 13, 2011

From researching, I gather that the tomato is a species of plant in the potato family and the nightshade genus. See USDA link below. I know all over the internet people claim the tomato is in the nightshade family, but from the USDA link below, that is not correct - it is in the potato family and the nightshade genus.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Solanum Lycopersicum Reference

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The Solanaceae family is comprised of many genera and species, over 3,000 actually.

Within that large family there's a genus called Solanum and within that Solanum genus there are many species.

Tomatoes started out being in the Solanum family then the genus was changed to Lycopersicon, then when it was found that some of the tomato species already known could cross with some non tomato Solanums the genus name for Solanum was once again adopted for tomatoes.

Without going into detail I'll just refer folks to the link below which I think explains it very well.

Tomatoes are in the Solananceae family as are potatoes, eggplant and so much more so the USDA could have described it as the tomato family or eggplant family or whatever, and don't forget petunia and Nicotiana are also in that family as well.

And so are the many different nightshades.

Folks have referred to the Solanaceae family as the night shade family most of the time and that's historic in nature, again, same Genus, Solanum, as the tomatoes of which there are now about 14-15 species but only a few of them edible.

The link below is from the Sol Gene project which is based at Cornell and the goal is to identify all the genes in tomatoes.

The introduction is the most important part for this thread.

Carolyn, who also notes that there are many contributors to the Sol Gene project in various ways and I was asked to contribute some seeds for varieties to Dr. David Francis at Ohio State who is a major player in that project as are a couple of other scientists there. And many from other places as well, of course of the major players at Cornell. What I'm trying to say is that the information in the link below I think is better than just seeing that the USDA chose to use potato to describe the family when it could have been anything else in that family. How about Chinese Lanterns, in the Physalis genus, which is also in the Solanacaeae family. ( smile)

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Nomenclature

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 1:26PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Your link used the term "potato family" in a very generic sense and I can see how it would be most confusing to someone not knowledgeable about scientific nomenclature.

You would be very correct in saying that tomatoes, potatoes, nightshade, petunias, etc. are in the Nightshade family. Nightshade is something of an 'umbrella' word under which all of those plants can be commonly placed.

The actual Latin family name is Solanaceae.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:45PM
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amberroses(10a)

I think you need to be aware of how the term "family" is being used in a specific context. Maybe it means "Family" as in Linnaean taxonomy or maybe it means "family" to mean just that two things are related.

On another note, why is it that people go to such great lengths to assert that tomatoes are botanical fruits and not vegetables as if the fate of the world rests on the general acceptance of that fact? They don't seem to care how peppers, eggplants, squash, etc... are perceived.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 9:59PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

On another note, why is it that people go to such great lengths to assert that tomatoes are botanical fruits and not vegetables as if the fate of the world rests on the general acceptance of that fact? They don't seem to care how peppers, eggplants, squash, etc... are perceived.

******

I don't know as so many people have gone to great lengths to speak to tomatoes as being fruits rather than vegetables. I've been posting online at message sites since the early 80's and only occasionally has that question come up and then someone links them to a site that discusses why tomatoes are a fruit not a vegetable.

perhaps it has to do with the Supreme Court decision of the late 1900's which I've linked to below and that decision has been perpetuated over the years?

The same question comes up in cooking contexts as well.

Tomatoes are a fruit not a vegetable but on earth are used by we humans as vegetables.

I don't pay much attention to whether what I grow is a fruit or a vegetable, I just grow them and use them, but it does get interesting when there are discussions of strawberries, for instance, which almost everyone would call fruits, but since strawberry seeds are on the exterior of the berry they aren't technically fruits, rather, they are called achenes as noted below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit

And below I've linked to that court case having to do with the tomato vegetable vs fruit decision. And there's some other good info in that link as well. Perhaps you read/post at places I don't, but I don't see too many folks discussing the tomato fruit vs vegatable issue except occasionally a student doing a science project asks.

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato; Fruit or Vegetable?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 10:27AM
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garystpaul(4)

Just to add to the confusion: I've read that tomatoes are "technically" whatever that means) neither fruits nor vegetables, but berries.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:04PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Yes, tomatoes can also be called berries according to some definitions.

So tomoato= fruit, aka berry or Tomato = berry, aka fruit. LOL

See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato; Fruit and/or Berry

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 6:17PM
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springlift34

This is a hilarious post. Truly great,since the answer is already questioned.

Tomatoes love manure,and also care, and attention,and whatever thought you put into them.

Ever think about the idea of attending to a plant in plain dirt with all of your might versus not attending to a plant with optimal soil? Yep, you guessed it, the plant you care about will win. Know why?

Care. It defaults most all scientific knowledge,as well as environmental situations, because you care,which means you are on top of it.

Take care,
Travis

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 8:43PM
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