Tomato/Potato all in one plant.
August 27, 2010 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Can a potato tomato plant exist without being 2 plants grafted together?

I grow a small garden on my deck in containers. I cut up a Yukon Gold potato purchased from my supermarket that sprouted eyes and planted it in a container. It's grown very well this summer. It has flowered and as the flowers wilt and fall off, small green tomatoes are growing in their place! On the potato plant! I have beefsteak and cherry tomatoes growing in a bucket 5 feet from the potatoes. Could they had cross pollinated?
Here is a photo. The green tomatoes show seed formation when I cut one open but it doesn't smell at all like a tomato.
posted by boby to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know why that link didn't take. Potato fruit.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2010

Those are potato fruits. Potato and Tomato are very closely related.
posted by JPD at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2010

You probably shouldn't taste the fruits from your potato plant.
posted by Ery at 9:23 AM on August 27, 2010

Yeah, those are not tomatoes, they're the potato fruit, which is highly toxic! Do not eat.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:23 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry to disappoint, but they're not tomatoes. Your potato plants have simply set fruit, which some varieties do. Unfortunately, they're totally useless--potatoes don't breed true, so you shouldn't bother saving the seed, and the fruit themselves are poisonous.
posted by juliapangolin at 9:24 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Everyone above is correct, but I just wanted to point out that even if your tomato and potato had cross pollinated, you wouldn't see the result until the nest generation. Pollination wouldn't change the existing plants.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:48 AM on August 27, 2010

Best answer: You should definitely save seed from potato fruit!

Because of biological weirdness, each seed from a potato fruit is basically a genetic lottery. Plant them and you effectively have your own potentially unique potato varieties. They'll take two years to actually make potatoes, but once you have them, you can replant the potatoes to keep the variety going.

Because of this weirdness, the only way to keep a potato variety true is by planting the tuber (i.e. the actual potato), which is essentially a root cutting. That's how most people grow potatoes, but you can grow them from seed too. If you plant a potato plant from a potato, you pretty much have a clone of the parent.

But yeah, that's potato fruit. Don't eat it! Potatoes (and tomatoes) are nightshades and their fruit is potentially deadly. But they're both nightshades, that's why they look alike. Other things in the same family are peppers, ground cherries, and tomatilloes.

Also, hybridization doesn't work like that, and very very rarely occurs between species. If hybridization did occur, you would notice nothing in the fruit, but the plant from the seed inside the fruit would be a hybrid and show differences. Maybe. Genes are weird.

tl; dr. Don't eat (they're poisonous!) but save the seeds inside for next year for surprise potatoes.

More about true potato seed.
posted by wayland at 9:54 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, the reason people graft potato plants onto tomato root stock (tomato plant roots) is that most potato varieties don't normally produce fruit. However, the tomato roots don't make tubers and encourage the potato part to make actual fruit, thereby pretty much ensuring the production of potato fruit.

I can't find a source for this, but I remember reading somewhere that they're also called "Poisonous Wolf Peaches". You'll find them called potato apples sometimes too.
posted by wayland at 10:02 AM on August 27, 2010

posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:08 AM on August 27, 2010

One more: to save the seeds, mash up the fruit and put it in water and leave it for a day. The fruit flesh should float and the seeds sink, making it really easy separate them. Afterwards, leave the seeds on a paper towel on a tray somewhere to dry out.

Next year, plant them like you would tomatoes, starting inside if you're in an area that gets winter, and transplant them out after danger of frost. Just leave them for the season and don't dig them up . What's actually happening is the potato is making some very small potatoes that will stay in the ground.

The next year, those very small potatoes will make a new plant and, eventually, some regular sized potatoes. After the first frost, dig them up and put at least one somewhere safe to plant for next year. You can eat the rest. Then, just plant them like you did with your yukon gold potato.

Sorry for the triple post, potato seeds excite me! Also - if you don't want to go through all this trouble, I could trade you some tomato or ground cherry seed for your potato seeds. ;)
posted by wayland at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input. I thought I had a exotic new plant that would be the next big thing in food. Oh well.
wayland, send me a MeFi EMail and I can send you the seeds.
My farming is more of a hobby than a devotion. JalapeƱos, eggplant and tomatoes are the big hits this year in my garden.
posted by boby at 3:01 PM on August 27, 2010

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