Cyphomandra betacea

Tamarillo, Tree Tomato

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  • Cyphomandra betacea

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Growing Info

Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 12 hours.
Germination: sow seed 1/16" deep, tamp the soil and keep moist.

Tamarillos fruits are egg-shaped and about 4-10 centimeters long. Their color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple, sometimes with dark, longitudinal stripes. Red fruits are more acidic, while yellow and orange fruits are sweeter. The flesh has a firm texture and contains more and larger seeds than a common tomato. The fruits are very high in vitamins and iron and low in calories (only about 40 calories per fruit).
Cultivation and Care
Tamarillos are suitable for growing as indoor container plants, although their swift growth, light, water and humidity requirements, and large leaves can pose a challenge to those with limited space. They thrive in a sunny position with any well-drained soil, preferably a light fertile one. They dislike drought and are prone to wind damage. Tamarillos fruit best with a temperature range of 16 - 22°C in the growing season. They require a minimum winter temperature of 10°C for optimal fruit production but can survive temperatures as low as -2°C.
Propagation and Harvesting
Tamarillos can be propagated from seeds, which usually germinate within 4 weeks at 15°C or 2 weeks at 25°C. The seedlings can be pricked out into individual pots and grown in a greenhouse for their first winter. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of greenwood in a frame can also be used for propagation.
The tree tomato is cultivated for its edible fruit in sub-tropical and tropical zones, and there are various named varieties. Trees start fruiting within two years from seed and reach peak production in 3-4 years. They require a good mulch and usually ripen their fruits over a period of time. The leaves have a pungent smell, and the plants are susceptible to attacks by red spider mites. Commercial plantations have a life expectancy of about 8 years.
Edibility and Medicinal Uses
The tamarillo fruit is consumed raw or cooked. It has a varying flavor, with the best forms being juicy and sub-acid. The fruit can be eaten out of hand, added to salads, used in preserves, jams, and jellies. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, iron, and low in carbohydrates. The fruit contains about 150 IU of vitamin A per 100g and 25mg of vitamin C. Medicinally, there are no known specific uses for the plant.
In summary, the Tamarillo, also known as the tree tomato, is a small tree or shrub that produces egg-shaped fruits. It is native to the Andes but is now cultivated in many regions around the world. The plant is fast-growing, reaching up to 5 meters in height, and has a single upright trunk with lateral branches. The fruits vary in color and have a firm texture with more and larger seeds than common tomatoes. Tamarillos are high in vitamins and iron, low in calories, and suitable for indoor container planting. They require a sunny position, well-drained soil, and regular watering. The fruits can be eaten raw or cooked and are rich in nutrients. They are cultivated for their edible fruit in sub-tropical and tropical zones and can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

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