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Solanum Peruvianum Complex

Solanum peruvianum are a group of closely related species of wild tomato that are native to the western slope of the Andes in Peru and northern Chile. The group comprises Solanum peruvianum, S. corneliomulleri, S. arcanum, and S. huaylasense. I’ll call them Solanum peruvianum here for simplicity.

Solanum peruvianum produces small white or green fruits, often with a purple blush. The flavor can be sweet when fully ripe but is unappealing before then. Some fruits are bitter even when overripe. The fruits may be hairy or smooth.

Solanum peruvianum is generally self-sterile, meaning that it cannot pollinate itself, and requires pollen from a plant that is not closely related. Therefore, to attract pollinators, the flowers are large and colorful. The multi-floral [ae1] flower clusters are typically held high above the foliage. Usually, the style is highly exerted, and in some species, it is bent. Solanum peruvianum does not cross-pollinate readily with domestic tomatoes. On my farm, I combined the species into a single population because it’s too hard to distinguish one from the other, and they cross pollinate with each other.

I am growing Solanum peruvianum as a domestication project where I’m selecting for larger-fruited, sweeter-tasting tomatoes. There is so much diversity in the species complex that it’s been a very productive selection project.

Joseph Lofthouse
World Tomato Society Ambassador
The Beautifully Promiscuous and Tasty Tomato Project

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