A Gardening Miracle Explained: When Potatoes Produce Tomatoes


Potato fruits (Solanum tuberosum).

You’ll see this in newspapers or on television to every 4 or 5 years (the time, I suppose, that the media forget they were taken in 4 or 5 years previously).

Someone calls them to announce that a miracle occurred in their garden, that their potato plants are producing green cherry tomatoes! And the medias rush over, capture images as proof and announce, very seriously, that Mr. and Mrs. John Doe have developed a potato that produces tomatoes. It doesn’t take long for more experienced gardeners to set them straight: the next day they publish a retraction, because the potato plants were not producing tomatoes, of course, but simply typical potato fruits.

The sudden appearance of fruits in their potato plants can easily catch less experienced gardeners unawares, since in most climates, potato plants only produce fruit occasionally, every few years or so, when growing conditions are just right. And since tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are close relatives, it is not surprising that their fruits are similar. But woe to he who decides to eat the green “tomatoes” produced by potato plants, because they are highly poisonous!


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