Tree tomato

Tree tomato

Solanum betaceum

Common Name:

Tree tomato

Scientific Name:

Solanum betaceum

Alternative common names:

Boomtamatie (Afrikaans), Tamarillo.


The tree tomato is a small tree or shrub indigenous to the Andes Mountains. Significant production of the fruit occurs in New Zealand, which exports it along commercial channels. It has invaded forest margins and understoreys in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Andes Mountains in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 3 in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

How does it spread?

It spreads easily by seed.

Why is it a problem?

It invades forest margins and understoreys.

What does it look like?

A softly woody, evergreen shrub or small tree up to 6m high.

Leaves: Softly downy, papery, ovate, margins entire, blade 300-400mm long and 200-350mm wide, cordate at the base.

Flowers: Pale pink or lavender, 12-25mm wide, in small, loose clusters near the branch tips.

Fruit/seeds: The smooth,elliptic-ovoid berries are green turning purple, red, orange or yellow, often with darker longitudinal stripes, 50-100mm long, pointed at both ends, long-stalked and borne singly or in clusters of 3-12.

Does the plant have any uses?

Cultivated for its edible fruit.

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