Solanum Habrochaites by Joseph Lofthouse
Solanum habrochaites is a species of wild tomato that is native to the western slope of the Andes from central Ecuador to central Peru. It’s range includes areas from near sea level to very high altitude, thus some populations have developed remarkable cold/frost tolerance.
Solanum habrochaites produces small, green-colored, hairy fruits. The flavor tends towards bland and acidic. They can develop some sweetness when very ripe. Perhaps the hairs of the fruits provide protection against sun-scald and/or predators.
In most of it’s range, Solanum habrochaites is self-sterile, meaning that it cannot pollinate itself, and requires pollen from a plant that is not closely related. Therefore, the flowers are huge and colorful in order to attract pollinators. At the edges of it’s range, some populations are capable of self-fertilization. These populations tend towards having smaller, less-colorful flowers.
Solanum habrochaites is most closely related to Solanum pennellii, and both species can act as pollen donors to domestic tomatoes, but cannot be pollinated by domestic tomatoes.
On my farm, I am growing Solanum habrochaites for two purposes: 1) As a domestication project, selecting for sweeter flavors and larger fruits, and 2) to make hybrids with domestic tomatoes in order to move the self-sterile trait into a population of large-fruited, aromatic tomatoes.
World Tomato Society Ambassador
The Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato Project