Cyphomandra betacea or Tamarillo belongs to the family of solanaceae, like tomatoes and potatoes. It’s a tree and produces tomatoe-like fruit.
It’s a very nice tree or patio plant for a beginner: you can’t fail at sowing and there’s little you can do, outside from never watering the plant, that will prevent it from growing.
And come on, tomatoes on a tree? You gotta admit the idea is funny.
Cyphomandra betacea is a small tree of 2-7 m tall. The trunk is densely tomentose.
Leaves are simple, the blade measuring up to 40 cm long and 35 cm wide. It is oval, moderately hairy, green and pointed. The leaf stalk measures 3-25 cm and are densely tomentose.
The inflorescence measures up to 15 cm long, with 10-50 white to purple flowers.
Fruit are up to 10 cm long and 5 cm wide, elliptical or ovoid, yellow to orange, red or purple, often with dark longitudinal stripes. They contain numerous flat, black seeds.
Tamarillo, tree tomato, tomato tree
Cyphomandra crassifolia, Solanum betaceum, Solanum crassifolium
Cyphomandra: from the Greek kyphos (bent, curved) + suffix -andra
Betacea: from the Latin betaceum (beet)
South America, origin uncertain but probably Argentina and Bolivia
Dry soils at the edge of the forest, 1,000-3,000 m altitude
USDA zones 9-11, -3 °C
Rich, well drained
Sun, very light
Water abundantly during summer, leaves wilt when too dry.
Weekly during growth, flowering and fruiting. Use tomato fertilizer or universal fertilizer, once a week.
Branches may be pruned to obtain a bushier plant
Sowing and cutting
- during spring or summer
- take branches which are already woody
- place in light soil in a pot, humidify and close in a plastic bag
- roots will appear after 8 weeks
- sow in light soil in a pot
- put the pot in a plastic bag and close
- keep at 20-25 °C
- germination: 1-2 weeks
- repot when the seedlings are big enough to be handled