Tomatoes are a very well known heirloom fruit that are grown across the world for their juicy and sweet additions to salads, sauces and even drinks – there are a whole host of uses for the tomato. Yes, fruit, for those who don’t know – tomatoes contain seeds, a biological green flag for a fruit.
The tomato, or Solanum lycoperiscum, as they are known in botany, are one of the most widely cultivated legumes in the world. As their genus indicates they are from the same family as nightshade, although tomatoes aren’t poisonous as their genetic siblings are.
While originally endemic to South America, the country that now cultivates the most tomatoes is China by a serious margin.
The tomato is a great example of how heirloom cultivation can lead to endemic distribution across the globe, principally, heirloom tomatoes are one of the most widely recognised heirloom varieties in the world of modern botany.
While the tomato plant is commonly grown across the domestic gardens of many American households, as well as across the globe, one part of the plant that is often overlooked is the flower, which creates the fruit.
It’s certain that no one really grows tomatoes purely for their inflorescence, but there is a certain charm to the delicate yellow flower. Although, perhaps surprisingly, there isn’t much variation within the flowers as the fruit changes by variety.
Yet, there is some mild variation by cultivar and it’s definitely a fresh way to learn about interesting and different tomato cultivars you may not have heard of.
It’s no surprise the flowers of the Tomato are often very comparable to other nightshade flowers of the Solanum genus which is one of the most wide and diverse. Let’s explore together, and learn about some tomatoes you can grow at home, in any space!
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Yellow Taxi’
Surprisingly, ‘Yellow Taxi’ is not a reference to this plant’s flowers, rather it is a reference to this tomato’s peculiar colored skin on the fruit. An heirloom variety, this cultivar produces bright yellow fruit that is not the usual tomato you would recognise.
They are slightly more acidic in taste and less sweet which some may enjoy, but also makes them great to grow alongside more standard tomatoes as they have some acidic compliment to the sweeter varieties when eaten.
Regardless of the fruit, this cultivar has an interesting version of the standard tomato flower. The flower remains yellow, like its fruit in this case, but has an interesting morphology rather uncommon for the tomato flower.
This ‘Yellow Taxi’ variety produces flowers that are comparable to the Daffodil. They have a cupped centre that is surrounded by quite dainty but clement yellow petals. This creates a pleasant ruffled look, like a proud aristocrat.
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Copia’
Another heirloom variety that produces interesting fruit as well as some curious flowers. The fruit itself is particularly sought out for its ombré skin. The fruit is a glorious marbled red and yellow color that is enchanting as well as having a quite light colored flesh.
This particular heirloom variety is enjoyed for its range of acidity and sweetness as well as its enchanting looks.
Of interest to us, though, is the flower of the ‘Copia’ cultivar. The flower is larger than most in diameter and also contains double petals.
This gives the tomato a particularly pronounced look in comparison to other tomato cultivar flowers, however the color remains yellow. This looks great as the fruit looks very attractive as it starts to grow.
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Green Tiger’
Without even mentioning the flower these are quite obscure and interesting tomatoes purely based on their fruit alone.
The fruit is considered artisan, it is marbled like the Copia but has mainly green colors with yellow undertones making a pattern that indeed resembles a ‘Green Tiger’. The fruit’s acidic flesh is enjoyed among other tomato varieties that are sweet and provide a perfect balance.
This said, even the flowers are relatively unique for tomato plants. They are particularly small, potentially the smallest we have come across.
They themselves have some green and yellow marbling with the early petals staying a fresh green color, whereas the larger external petals are more commonly yellow.
Lycopersicon Esculentum ‘Apricot Brandywine’
First grown by the Amish, the ‘Brandywine’ tomato is large and fleshy and has a distinclyt sweet flavor earning its ‘brandywine’ name. They are often overlooked for the more common and agriculturally cultivated beefsteak tomato which shares the segmented, bulging morphology of this fruit.
This particular apricot variety has an orange color that adds acidity to the sweet tomato but also resembles an apricot in color.
The flowers of this brand of tomato are interesting too. They often have much more of the green sepals that cup the petals, and the stamen is also exposed like the stigma.
This does lead to some cross pollination potential if growing with other tomatoes that are too close, so plant them in their own soil path or planter.
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Banana Legs’
It’s worth covering the fruit first as they are particularly curious looking. They suit their name well as the tomato has an uncommonly elongated body that not only resembles a banana in shape but also in color.
They are thick and meaty in their flesh but are relatively acidic and luckily have few seeds. They are grown as an heirloom variety mainly for their looks but bring great acidity to a salad or dish that utilises an array of tomatoes.
Surprisingly, or not, this is one of the few ranges of tomato that have a slightly different colored flower.
While still yellow for the most part even in mature contexts the flowers remain a strange creamy yellow color that is quite elegant in comparison to its gaudy fruit. Big long sepals cup the creamy petals.
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Peacevine Cherry’
These tomatoes are cultivated by the sustainability king and founder of Peace Seeds in Oregon, Dr Alan Kapuler, hence the hippie inspired name. These are basically your classic cherry tomatoes that have been cultivated to optimisation.
They are especially bright, sweet and red in comparison to other commercially grown cherry tomato cultivars. A great compliment to some previously mentioned acidic tasting varieties.
What’s cool is that the flowers of this variety are almost always five petals. This makes for a particularly aesthetically pleasing tomato flower to cast your eyes on as they look like little yellow stars among the luscious green vines the tomatoes grow on.
You won’t be sorry to see these go, though, as they birth the beautifully red cherry tomatoes that are also great to look at.
Solanum Lycopersicum ‘Caro Rich’
One reason this particular cultivar is sought after is because of its plant genetics that make it a season long bloomer. Simply stated, this tomato will fruit all season round thanks to clever cultivation, which makes it popular among farmers and cultivators for obvious reasons.
Beyond this yield issue, the Caro Rich is truly a great shade of red that looks like a buttery tomato soup, that beautiful orangey red that is softer and not so dramatic as a cherry tomatoes blushing color.
They are one of the largest beefsteak tomatoes and can grow to 12 pounds when grown properly
Beyond their curious cultivation and popularity among yield-greedy farmers, these tomatoes do have more interesting flowers. The flowers of this tomato are a great contrast to the boisterous fruit it grows in summer.
Contrastingly, the flowers are rather shy and don’t really spread out that much, rather you get large green sepals that surround the small flower that has creamy yellow petals.
This is a rather common trait among other nightshade flowers, who share the same family as the solanum lycoperisctum.
The Final Word
So there you have it, tomato flowers. There isn’t a great amount of difference among these flowers, as mentioned. They do have a decent amount of morphological difference that could be of interest to those interested in botany, but the differences are subtle to say the least.
In any case, this is a great way to show you some different types of tomato fruit. For all its failure to create interesting and different flowers, the Solanum lycopersicum has a lot of different varieties and cultivars that have been grown and cultivated for a long time.
From banana-like to cherry red tomatoes, there is a lot to choose from. Tomatoes are super easy to grow, and once you have had a successful harvest you can grow them year after year with success from your hard trained skills.
Kids love tomatoes, and they are super healthy as well as beautiful and tasty. It’s an easy way to get kids into gardening. Once you tell them that you made their favorite pasta sauce with tomatoes from your garden, they will be picking them from the vine as eagerly as your dogs will too!
Get growing today to reap the rewards of growing the humble tomato, it will reward you in terms of food, patience, and ultimately some beauty and health!