There’s an allotment next to the Urban Pond, and so an occasional ‘exotic’ finds it’s way over the hedge and into the margins. Potatoes in particular seem to flourish in the outlying greenery. Were they thrown there as ‘chitting spuds’? However they achieved their great escape from the allotment now they’ve arrived they’re proving resistant to being cleared out again, and despite our best efforts a number sprout every season.
This morning I came across something new, a tomato seemed to be growing from one of the potato plants.
This pomato hybrid just didn’t make sense, I was confused, so a little web-foraging followed and revealed that what I’d spotted wasn’t a tomato at all, but a potato fruit or potato berry.
It turns out that this is a quite normal phenomenon. The round, green cherry-tomato-looking berries actually are the fruit of the potato plant and not tomatoes.
We eat the tuber, but the fruit is what the plant produces, complete with seed in there for growing future plants. Although I also read that plants grown from potato fruit seeds can be weaker and more susceptible to disease than those originating from seed potatoes.
It turns out that the potato and the tomato are both in the same ‘nightshade’ family, which explains why the flowers and fruits look pretty similar.
However, potato fruit is poisonous, so don’t be tempted to chop one into your salad, oh and you might want to tell your kids to leave them well alone too.
ps. there are commercial products – created by grafting, called things like ‘TomTato’ and ‘Potato Tom’ that claim to produce viable crops of both tomatoes and potatoes, but this isn’t what we’re seeing growing by the side of the Urban Garden…