T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Solanum betaceum (Tamarillo)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. betaceum
Binomial name: Solanum betaceum
Common name: Tamarillo, Tree Tomato

Solanum betaceum is a small tree or shrub and is native to the Andes of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia.
It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit. Prior to 1967, the tamarillo was known as the "tree tomato" in New Zealand, but a new name was chosen by the New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotions Council in order to distinguish it from the ordinary garden tomato and increase its exotic appeal. The choice is variously explained by similarity to the word "tomato", the Spanish word "amarillo", meaning yellow, and a variation on the Maori word "tama", for "leadership". It is still called Tree Tomato in most of the world.
The fruit can be between 2 and 8 centimeters in length. They are held on the tree in clusters as are many other clustered fruit, such as cherries.
The trees are grown from cuttings and are very frost-tender when young. They are shallow-rooted and respond to deep mulching and abundant water. The tree can grow to a little more than 6 meters but it is subject to wind damage and needs shelter. It will bear fruit after two years and a single mature tree in good soil will carry more fruit than a normal family can eat for about 3 months. A well-nourished tree can produce up to 66 kilograms of fruit in a year. When the tree is about 1 to 1.5 meters in height it is advisable to cut the roots on one side and lean the tree to the other (direction of the midday sun at about 30 to 45 degrees). This allows fruiting branches to grow from all along the trunk rather than just at the top.

Small tree tomato growning on the banks of the Te Henui stream

Leaves of the Tree tomato

two green tree tomatoes and one red ripe one. Mid July.