Cross-section and full view of a ripe tomato
Species: S. lycopersicum
Lycopersicon esculentumThe tomato is a savory, typically red, edible fruit, as well as the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) which bears it. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates.
The tomato fruit is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredientin many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court, see Nix v. Hedden), which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in lycopene, which may have beneficial health effects.
The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. The plants typically grow to 1–3 metres (3–10 ft) inheight and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial in its native habitat, although often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual.
1.1 Spanish distribution
1.3 Middle East
1.4 North America
2.2 Diseases and pests
2.4 Hydroponicand greenhouse cultivation
2.5 Picking and ripening
2.6 Genetic modification
3.2 Medicinal properties
3.4.1 Plant toxicity
4 Botanical description
5 Botanical classification
7 Fruit or vegetable?
9 Tomato records
10 Cultural impact
12 See also13 Footnotes
14 Further reading
15 External links
HistoryThe tomato is native to South America. Genetic evidence shows the progenitors of tomatoes were herbaceous green plants with small green fruit and a center of diversity in the highlands of Peru. One species, Solanum lycopersicum, was transported to Mexico, where it was grown and consumed by Mesoamerican civilizations. The exactdate of domestication is not known. The first domesticated tomato may have been a little yellow fruit, similar in size to a cherry tomato, grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico.[unreliable source?] Aztec writings mention tomatoes were prepared with peppers, corn and salt. The word "tomato" comes from the Nahuatl word tomatl, literally "the swelling fruit".
Spanishexplorer Cortés may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtítlan, now Mexico City, in 1521,although Christopher Columbus, a Genoese working for the Spanish monarchy, may have taken them back as early as 1493. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in an herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli,an Italian physician and botanist, who named it pomo d’oro, or "golden apple".:13
Aztecs and other peoples in the region used the fruit in their cooking; it was cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas by 500 BC. The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination. The large, lumpytomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.
Spanish distributionAfter the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Spanish distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean. They also took it to the Philippines, from where it spread to southeast Asia and then the entire Asian...