The tomato is a plant. When you hear the word, you often think of the red fruit. But the whole bush is also meant, and the tomatoes can have very different colors. In Austria, the tomato is called tomato or paradise apple, in the past, it was also called love apple or golden apple. Today’s name “tomato” comes from an Aztec language.
The wild plant originally comes from Central America and South America. The Maya grew tomatoes there more than 2000 years ago. At that time the fruits were still rather small. The discoverers brought the tomato to Europe in the 1550s.
It wasn’t until around the year 1800 or even 1900 that many tomatoes were eaten in Europe. There are over 3000 varieties that have been bred. In Europe, the tomato is one of the most important vegetables eaten. They are eaten fresh, dried, fried, or processed into food, for example, tomato ketchup.
In biology, the tomato is considered a plant species. It belongs to the nightshade family. It is therefore related to the potato, the aubergine, and even to tobacco. But there are many other plants that are equally closely related to the tomato.
How do tomatoes grow?
Tomatoes grow from seed. At first, they stand upright, but then lie down on the ground. In the nurseries, they are therefore tied to a stick or to a string that is attached higher up.
Large shoots with leaves grow from the stem. The yellow flowers grow on certain small shoots. They must be fertilized by an insect in order for a seed to grow.
The actual tomato then grows around the seed. In biology, they are considered berries. In our markets or shops, however, they are usually classified as vegetables.
If a tomato is not harvested in nature, it falls to the ground. Usually, only the seeds survive the winter. The plant dies.
Today, most tomatoes grow in greenhouses. These are large areas under a roof made of glass or plastic. Many seeds are not put in the ground at all but in an artificial material. Water with fertilizer is trickled into it.
Tomatoes don’t like wet leaves as they get from rain. That’s when fungi can grow. They cause black spots on the leaves and fruit, making them inedible and even dying. This danger hardly exists under one roof. As a result, fewer chemical sprays are needed.