Lycopersicon aethiopicum (L.) Mill.
Pseudocapsicum torulosum Moench
Solanum ambrosiacum Vell.
Solanum aurantiacum Sendtn.
Solanum brieyi De Wild.
Solanum elskensii De Wild.
Solanum geminifolium Thonn.
Solanum gilo Raddi
Solanum giorgii De Wild.
Solanum hybridum Jacq.
Solanum integrifolium Poir.
Solanum kupperi Markgr.
Solanum lobelii Ten.
Solanum lusitanicum Dunal
Solanum monteiroi C.H.Wright
Solanum naumannii Engl.
Solanum obtusifolium Willd.
Solanum olivare Pailleux & Bois
Solanum ovatifolium De Wild.
Solanum paaschenianum H.J.P.Winkl.
Solanum pierreanum Paill. & Bois
Solanum poggei Dammer
Solanum pseudomelongena Ten.
Solanum scabrum Jacq.
Solanum scabrum Zuccagni
Solanum schroederi Dammer
Solanum sparsespinosum De Wild.
Solanum subsessile De Wild.
Solanum sudanense Hammerst.
Solanum texanum Dunal
Solanum willdenowii Roem. & Schult.
Solanum worsleyi W.Watson
Solanum zuccagnianum Dunal
Common Name: Mock Tomato
Solanum aethiopicum is a very variable plant; often grown as an annual, it is generally a perennial plant with stems that become more or less woody and persist. It forms a much branched, deciduous plant thar can grow up to 2.5 metres tall. The branches and leaves can be with or without prickles[
Mock tomato is one of the most commonly cultivated vegetable fruits in Tropical Africa, and has also been introduced into Brazil via the slave trade[
]. It is grown commercially and in home gardens and is commonly sold in local markets. The plant has been derived in cultivation from the wild Solanum anguivi Lam., via the semi-domesticated Solanum distichum Schumach. & Thonn., both of which are found throughout tropical Africa. The plant is also sometimes grown as an ornamental[
Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most plants in the family Solanaceae also contain poisonous alkaloids. Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant[
The original range is uncertain.
A plant of cultivation, it is not known in a truly wild situation.
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A plant of the moist tropics, it can also be grown as an annual crop in the temperate zone as long as it can be given a growing season of at least 4 months. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 10 - 40°c[
]. It is not tolerant of frosts[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 800 - 4,000mm[
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most moderately fertile, well-drained soils when growing in a sunny position[
]. A soil too rich in nitrogen will encourage leaf growth at the expense of flowering, and so will reduce the yield of fruit[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 8.5[
Young plants grow rapidly and flowering starts from 40 - 100 days after sowing. As the first flowers are initiated, branching and subsequent production of smaller leaves occurs[
Growth and flowering may continue indefinitely, but are suppressed once sufficient fruits have set[
The preferred weight for fruits of Gilo Group and Kumba Group is 30 - 40g. One plant may produce from 500 g to about 8 kg of fruits, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions[
Without irrigation, yields are 5 - 8 t/ha, and with irrigation 12 - 20 t/ha. Improved cultivars grown under favourable conditions may yield 50 - 80 t/ha[
Fruits of Kumba Group have mean weights of 70 - 120 g, sometimes even over 200 g; yield is 10 - 20 t/ha[
Under good management, farmers growing cultivars of Shum Group can get up to 75 leaf bundles of 30 kg each per 100 m2. This means that the crop has a yield potential of 225 t/ha. The average leaf yield during the dry season for a once-over harvest, however, is only 30 t/ha[
This is a food crop that is difficult to characterize as a whole, with a great plasticity and grown in a variety of habitats ranging from dry rocky outcrops and grasslands to forests[
]. Because of their morphological diversity, various cultivars of S. Aethiopicum have previously been described as many different species, and have been confused with S. Incanum and other species. Four cultivar-groups are now recognised, as follows:-
S. Aethiopicum Gilo Group. The fruits, which are like hens' eggs or many other shapes and sizes, and scarlet when ripe, are eaten unripe, cooked in stews or even raw[
]. Plants in this group thrive in full sun in woodland savannah on fairly deep and well-drained soils with pH 5.5 - 6.8, and in temperatures of 25 - 35°c during the day and 20 - 27°c at night[
S. Aethiopicum Shum Group. Grown in tropical Africa, especially in Cameroon and Uganda. The glabrous small-leaved shoots are cooked as spinach. This group thrives under warm, humid conditions and will drop their leaves when it gets dry. In Uganda they are grown in drying swamps during the dry season[
S. Aethiopicum Kumba Group. Grown in sub-Sahelian W Africa, especially Senegal, in the wet season. The large glabrous leaves are cooked as spinach: subsequently the large, sweet, ribbed fruits are eaten raw or cooked in stews[
]. This group thrives in very hot conditions, with temperatures up to 45°c during the day and air humidity sometimes as low as 20%, especially if they are irrigated[
S. Aethiopicum Aculeatum Group. These prickly ornamental plants with attractive but very bitter scarlet fruits possess some disease resistance so they are used for breeding and as rootstocks for S. Melongena in Japan[
There are some named varieties in in Shum and Gilo groups[
The bitter and small-fruited, prickly and hairy ancestor, S. Anguivi occurs throughout tropical Africa[
Slugs really love the young plants and will totally destroy them if given half a chance[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. It can be cooked when immature or when fully ripe[
]. It can be used like aubergine (Solanum melongena) as a vegetable or as a flavouring for other foods[
]. We have only grown this plant once, the fruits were not at all pleasant, with a distinct bitterness[
]. The large fruits of cultivar-groups Gilo and Kumba are cooked in stews or even eaten raw[
]. The orange-red fruit is about 25mm in diameter[
Leaves and young shoots[
]. The very young leaves are said to be edible when cooked[
] though they have a bitter flavour[
]. Cooked as a spinach[
]. The young shoots are stripped of their numerous flowers and buds, and then finely cut for use in soups[
]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
The roots and fruits are used as a carminative and sedative, and to treat colic and high blood pressure[
The crushed and macerated fruits are used as an enema[
The leaf juice is used as a sedative to treat uterine complaints[
]. An extract of the leaves in alcohol is used as a sedative, anti-emetic and to treat tetanus after an abortion[
Some cultivars (Aculeatum Group) are occasionally used as a rootstock for tomato and eggplant[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Germination takes 5 - 9 days for the Gilo and Shum Groups, but only 3 - 5 days for the Kumba Group, although the latter may show seed dormancy and tends to have few seeds per fruit[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving some protection, such as a cloche, until the plants are growing away strongly[