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Tomato Leaf Types

Regular, Potato and Serrated Potato Leaf

Part 1 of 6

Did you know that tomatoes come in all sorts of different types of leaf patterns and colors? There are some wild and crazy ones we are excited to show you, but first let’s look at some of the common ones that we can all recognize.

The most common leaf type is the regular leaf, or cut leaf (C), which has large serrations in the leaf’s edges. These develop on all sorts of heirlooms and even newly created varieties. This is a dominant trait, meaning that when crossed with a recessive trait, these will be the first leaf type to show in an F1 hybrid. Most tomatoes have a regular leaf habit.

The second most common type of tomato leaf is the potato leaf (c), which is a recessive trait. This type of trait was named so because the leaves actually do resemble the look of a potato leaf, having smooth, round edges. Some will be perfectly smooth, and some will have “mittens,” or extra side growths that are also smooth. This type is said to require less water and can offer a little added protection to the fruits from damaging elements such as sun exposure and disease because of the sheer size and cover of the leaf structure.
Both leaf types also come in a rugose habit, which provides the same general shapes but exhibit thicker, crunchier leaves, like those of winter spinach. Rugose leaves are found only on dwarf-type plants, which are sturdy and more bush-like.

Now to throw a real curveball at you: I would like to introduce a rather uncommon type of leaf that has not yet been classified, genetically speaking, but it is very real in a visual sense to breeders working with this trait. The serrated potato leaf has the full roundness of a potato leaf with slight serrations along the outer edge, exhibiting no sections or interior cuts like a regular leaf would. Smaller secondary leaflets along the stem may either show as smooth potato leaves or be completely absent. This type of leaf has recently been found to offer some resistance to certain diseases, but the reason is yet unknown. In the photo shown below is an example of three types of rugose leaves; from left to right, they are regular leaf, serrated potato leaf, and potato leaf.

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