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Tree tomatoes (photo courtesy of Quentin Bacon/StockFood Creative/Getty Images)
Tree tomatoes (photo courtesy of Quentin Bacon/StockFood Creative/Getty Images)

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Zones 14-24, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water

Tree Tomato, Tamarillo

Evergreen, Edible fruit, Shrubs, Semi-evergreen

Treelike Andean native known botanically as Solanum betaceum (Cyphomandra betaceae). Fast growth to 10–18 ft. tall and two-thirds as wide. Pointed oval, 4–10-in.-long leaves; small pinkish flowers in summer and fall. In winter, bears egg-shaped, 2–3-in.-long red fruit (there are also yellow varieties). Fruit has acid flavor somewhat like that of tomato—if you find it too tart, try stewing it with a little sugar.

Grow from seed like tomato. Harvest fruit when it is fully colored; pluck from the tree by snapping off, leaving the stem attached. Bears on new growth. In late winter, prune back branches that have fruited by one-fourth to one-third (this will prevent fruit from developing ever farther out from the center of the plant). Control sucking insects. Frost sensitive; give overhead protection in Zones 14, 15, 18–21. Fruiting is more reliable in warmer parts of the range.

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