Lycopersicum esculentum Mill. Solanaceae. GOLD APPLE. LOVE
Bancroft states the tomato was eaten by the wild
tribes of Mexico and by the Nahua nations who called it tomati.
Humboldt says it was called tomati and was sown among maize by the
ancient Mexicans. The tomato is mentioned by Acosta, 1590, as among
the products of Mexico. The names, mala Peruviana and pomi del Peru,
indicate its transference to Europe from Peru, but Phillips, we know not
from what authority, says the tomato appears to have been brought to
Europe from Mexico. In the Treasury of Botany, it is said to have been
introduced to Europe in the early part of the sixteenth century.
The earliest mention of tomatoes is by Matthiolus, 1554, who calls them
pomi d'oro and says they have but recently appeared in Italy. In 1570,
Pena and Lobel give the name gold apple in the German, Belgian,
French and English languages, which indicates their presence in those
countries at this date. In 1578, Lyte says they are only grown in
England in the gardens of "Herboristes." Camerarius, in his Epitome,
1586, gives the French name of pommes d'amours, which corresponds
to Lyte's amorous apples; and, in his Hortus Medicus, 1588, he gives
the names of pomum Indium, and the foreign name of tumatle ex
tumatle americanorum. Anguillara, 1561, calls them poma Peruviana.
In Hernandez's History of Nova Hispania, 1651, he has a chapter on
the tomati, which includes our tomatoes and alkekengis; in 1658, the
Portuguese of Java used the word tomatas. Acosta, however, preceding
1604, used the word tomates, and Sloane, in 1695, tomato. Gerarde
says he received seeds of the tomato for his garden from. Spain, Italy
and other hot countries. The date of its appearance in England is hence
put for 1596. Gerarde says (in his second edition) that these love apples
are eaten abroad prepared and boiled with pepper, salt and oil and also
as a sauce, but " hey yield very little nourishment to the bodie, and the
same naught and corrupt." C. Bauhin in his Pinax, 1596, calls the
plant tumatle Americanorum. In 1656, Parkinson mentions the tomato
as being cultivated in England for ornament and curiosity only; while
Miller, 1752, says they were much used in soups in his time. In 1812,
they were an article of field culture in Italy, especially in Sicily, whence
they were sent to Naples and Rome, being extensively used in Italian
As Thunberg does not mention the tomato in Japan in 1776, we may
assume that it had not reached the Japanese at that date. Rumphius,
1755, gives the name as tomatte as used by the Malays, which shows it
had reached the Eastern Archipelago before this time. In 1840, Wilkes
found a distinct variety cultivated in Fiji, of a yellow color and about the
size of a small egg. The tomato was even found wild in interior Africa by
Grant, about 1860, but the natives had not learned the use of the fruit
and were surprised at his eating it. Long, 1774, describes the tomato of
Jamaica as very large, compressed at both ends, deeply furrowed all
over the sides, filled with a pulpy juice, which has somewhat the taste of
gravy, for which reason they are often used in soups and sauces and
impart a very grateful flavor; they are likewise fried and served with
D. J. Brown says that, until about 1834, the tomato was almost wholly
unknown in this country as an esculent vegetable, and in the History of
the Massachusetts Horticultural Society it is said that in 1844 this
vegetable was then acquiring that popularity which makes it so
indispensable at present. Yet they are mentioned as grown in Virginia
by Jefferson in 1781. In 1798, according to a writer in the Prairie
Farmer, the tomato was brought to Philadelphia by a French refugee
from Santo Domingo but was not sold in the markets until 1829. In
1802, it was introduced at Salem, Massachusetts, by an Italian painter,
but he found it difficult to persuade people even to taste the fruit. In
1835, tomatoes were sold by the dozen at Quincy Market, Boston. In
1812, they were use in as a food at New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1806,
McMahon speaks of tomatoes as being in much estimation for culinary
purposes but mentions no varieties. In 1818, Gardiner and Hepburn
say that tomatoes make excellent pickles. In 1828, Fessenden quotes
the name from London only. In 1832, Bridgeman says tomatoes are
much cultivated for soups and sauces.
Thorburn gives directions for their cultivation in his Gardener's'
Kalendar for 1817, offers but one variety in his seed catalog of 1828,
but offers 31 varieties in 1881. T. S. Gold, Secretary of the Connecticut
Board of Agriculture, writes: "we raised our first tomatoes about 1832
as a curiosity, made no use of them though we had heard that the
French ate them. They were called love apples." The editor of the Maine
Farmer, 1835, says tomatoes are cultivated in gardens in Maine, and
are "a useful article of diet and should be found on every man's table."
The New York Farmer of this year has the statement of a correspondent
that he had "planted a large quantity of tomatoes," and a Professor
Bennett in 1835, in a course of local lectures in the West, refers to the
tomato, or Jerusalem apple, as found in abundance in the markets of
the West and recommends their dietetic use.
The ribbed tomato, with flattened and more or less ribbed fruit, is the
kind first introduced into European culture and is described in the
Adversaries, of 1570, as well as by many succeeding authors, and the
earlier figures indicate that it has changed but little under culture and
was early known as now in red, golden, yellow, and white varieties. A
parti-colored fruit is mentioned by J. Bauhin, 1651, and the type of the
bronze-leaved is named by Blackwell, 1770. This ribbed type was
probably the kind mentioned by Jefferson as cultivated in Virginia in
1781, as it was the kind whose introduction into general culture is
noted from 1806 to about 1830, when their growing was becoming
It has the following synonymy, gained from figures:
I. SYNONYMY OF THE RIBBED TOMATO.
Poma amoris, an Glaucium. Diosc. Lob. Obs. 140. 1576.
Poma amoris. Lyte's Dod. 440. 1578; Cam. Epit. 821. 1586; Ger. 275.
1597; Sweert. 2:20. 1654.
Poma aurea. Dalechamp 628. 1587.
Poma amoris, pomum aureum. Lob. Icon. 1:270. 1591.
Solanum pomiferum, fructu rotundo, molli. Matth. Op. 761. 1598.
Poma amoris fructu luteo et rubro. Hort. Eyst. 1613; 1713.
Aurea mala. Dod. 458. 1616; 455. 1583.
Pomi d'oro. Dur. C. 372. 1617.
Poma amoris. Park. Par. 381. 1629.
Amoris pomum. Blackw. 133. 1750.
Mala aurea. Chabr. 525. 1677; Bauh., J. 3:620. 1650.
Solanum pomiferum. Mor. Hist. s. 13, t. 1, f. 7. 1699.
Lycopersicon galeni. Morandi 8:53. 1744.
Lycopersicon. Tourn. 62. 1719.
Common Large Red. Mawe 1778.
Morelle pomme d'amour. Descourt 6:95. 1827.
Tomate rouge grosse. Vilm. 555. 1883.
Large Red. Burr. 646. 1863.
In form, these synonyms are substantially of one variety. The
descriptions accompanying and others of the same date mention all the
colors now found. In 1719, Tourne ort names a pale red, red, a yellow
and a white variety in France, and Mawe, 1778, names but the common
large red in England. In, 1854, Brown describes but two varieties, the
large red and the large yellow, for American gardens.
II. THE ROUND TOMATO.
Of the round tomato, there are no indications of its being known to the
early botanists, the first apparent reference being by Tournefort in
1700, who places among his varieties the Lycopersicum rubro non
striato, the non striato, not fluted or ribbed, implying the round form;
and this same variety was catalogued by Tilly at Pisa in 1723. In 1842,
some seed of the Fiji Island variety was distributed in Philadelphia, and
Wilkes describes the fruit of one variety as round, smooth, yellow, the
size of a large peach, and the fruit of two other varieties as the size of a
small egg, but gives no other particulars. This is the first certain
reference to this group. The large, smooth or round, red and the small
yellow, oval tomato of Browne, 1854, may belong here. Here, also may
be classed such varieties as Hathaway's Excelsior, King Humbert and
the Plum, and some of the tomate pomme varieties of the French.
The round form occasionally appears in the plants from seed of hybrid
origin, for when the cross was made between the currant and the tree
tomato, some plants thus obtained yielded fruit of the plum type. This,
however, may have been atavism. The botanical relations seem nearer to
the cherry tomato than to the ordinary forms.
III. SYNONYMY OF THE CHERRY TOMATO.
The cherry tomato is recorded as growing spontaneously in Peru, in the
West Indies, Antilles, southern Texas and New Jersey. There were red
and yellow varieties in Europe as early as 1623 and these are
mentioned in 1783 by Bryant as if they were the only sorts in general
culture in England at this time, but Mawe, 1778, enumerates the large
red, as also the red and yellow cherry, as under garden culture. The
following is its synonymy, mostly founded on description:
Solanum racemosum cerasorum. Bauh. Pin. 167. 1623; Prod. 90. 1671
Solanum amoris minus S. mala aethiopica parva. Park. Par. 379. 1629
Cujus fructus plane similis erat, magnitudine, figura, colore,
Strycknodendro. etc. Rechius Notes, Hernand, 296. 1651.
Fructus est cersasi instar (quoad magnitudine). Hort. Reg. Bles. 310. 1669
Solanum pomiferum fructu rotundo, molli parvo rubro piano. Ray 3;352. 1704.
Lycopersicum fructu cerasi rubro. Toum. 150. 1719.
Lycopersicum fructu cerasi luteo. Tourn. 150. 1719.
Solanum lycopersicum. Bryant 212. 1783.
Cherry-fruited. Mawe 1778.
Cherry. Mill. Diet. 1807; Burr 649, 652. 1863.
Morelle cerasiforme. Descourt. 5; 2 79, 378. 1827.
Lycopersicum cerasifolium. Noisette 1829.
Cherry-shaped. Buist 1851.
Tomate cerise. Vilm. 559. 1883.
This type is probably the normal form of the tomato of the gardens to
which the other types given can be referred as varieties. It is quite
variable in some respects, bearing its fruit usually in clusters,
occasionally in racemes. It is now but little grown and only for use in
preserves and pickles.
IV. THE PEAR TOMATO.
The pear tomato, which is to be classed as one of the fancy varieties
under cultivation, occurs with both yellow, red, and pale yellow or
whitish fruit. It was described by Dunal in 1813, and in Persoon's
Synopsis in 1805. It is mentioned in England in 1819, and both colors
were mentioned in the United States by Salisbury, 1848. The pear
tomato is used for garnishing and pickling. The common names are,
pear-shaped and fig.
L. humboldtii Dun.
This tomato is very like the preceding species, but the racemes of
the flowers are smaller, the calyx segments never being the length of the
corolla, and the berries are one-half smaller, red, and, when cultivated,
not less angular than those of L. esculentum. This tomato was noticed
by Humboldt as under cultivation at La Victoria, Neuva Valencia, and
everywhere in the valleys of Arayus, in South America. It is described
by Kunth, 1823, and by Willdenow, about 1806, from plants in the
Berlin garden from seeds received from Humboldt. The fruit, although
small, has a fine flavor. The Turban, Turk's Cap, or Turk's Turban, of
our seedsmen, a novelty of 1881, belongs here, although this cultivated
variety is probably a monstrous form.
L. pimpinellifolium Mill. CURRANT TOMATO.
The currant tomato bears its red fruit, somewhat larger
than a common currant, or as large as a very large currant, in tworanked
racemes, which are frequently quite large and abundantly filled.
It grows wild in Peru and Brazil and is figured by Feuillee, 1725, but
not as a cultivated plant. It is described by Linnaeus, 1763. The grape,
or cluster, tomato is recorded in American gardens by Burr, 1863, and
as the red currant tomato by Vilmorin, 1883 and 1885. It is an
exceedingly vigorous and hardy variety with delicate foliage and fruits
most abundantly. The berries make excellent pickles.
According to the test of cross-fertilization, few, if any, of the above
groups are true species. Two only, the cherry and the currant tomato,
are recorded in a truly wild condition. The tomato has, however, been
under cultivation from a remote period by the Nahua and other Central
American nations and reached Europe and American culture, as all the
evidence implies, in an improved condition. If there is any evidence that
any of our so-called types arose spontaneously from the influences of
culture, it is not noted. We may well ask, why did not other forms
appear during the interval from 1558 to 1623, when but one sort, and
that figured as little variable, received the notice of the early botanists?