Tamarillo or Tree Tomatoes

6 November 2015

The 2 - 5 meter high tree-like Tamarillo Shrub originates from the South American Andes



Tree Tomato

Solanum betaceum, Cyphomandra betacea


Tree Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family but are no real tomatoes: The harshly-sweet fruits contain vitamins A, C, E, and different B-group vitamins as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphor.

Propagation from Seeds that can also be grown from the Flower Tub

baumtomate-tamarillo-solanum-betaceum-cyphomandra-betacea-reifBecause of its fruits, the shrub is cultivated in many countries worldwide and in a smaller scale also on the Canary Islands. 

The name tree tomato can be misleading, as the only thing a tamarillo and a tomato have in common is that both belong to the nightshade family.


There are two scientific names: Solanum betaceum and Cyphomandra betacea.

„Tamarillo“, as it is called in Spanish, requires a clayey soil.


It also doesn't like sunny places and needs a place sheltered from the wind.

The crown of the evergreen shrub is umbrella-shaped. Its trunk and old shoots are brownish, younger shoots are green.

Leaves are elongated or heart-shaped with visible, light veins.

tamarillo-baumtomate-solanum-betaceum-cyphomandra-betacea-bluetenAround May or June the light blossoms open.  

They are tinged with rosé and hang down in small groups.

The egg-shaped fruits grow slowly and change colour from green to red.

By October/November Fruits are Ready for Harvesting

baumtomate-tamarillo-solanum-betaceum-cyphomandra-betacea-fruechteLike coloured Easter eggs they hang down from the tree on long stalks. 


Tree tomatoes have a firm, leathery fruit skin and will yield to slightly finger press when ripened.

Cut in two halves like kiwis, the pulp of the fruit can be spooned out and enjoyed together with the small seeds.

In this way their flavour will be more intense. Tamarillos taste aromatic and harsh-sweet.


When fruits are peeled before they are eaten, the outer fruit flesh slightly reduces the sweetness.

Tree tomatoes contain vitamins A, C, E and different B-group vitamins as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphor. 

Peeled fruits can also be added to salads or cooked like tomatoes or used for making jam.

Photos: Ines Dietrich, Uka Rösch

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