Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tree Tomato, Tamarillo
Cyphomandra betacea

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cyphomandra (sy-foh-MAN-druh) (Info)
Species: betacea (bet-uh-KEE-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Solanum betaceum
Synonym:Cyphomandra crassicaulis

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

40 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)
over 9.1 (very alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Ferment seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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5 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive zombateen On Jun 27, 2011, zombateen from Toronto
Canada wrote:

I live in Toronto Canada. Last year I bought some
tamarillo seeds online and planted them in pots.
They have dome fabulously well - the tallest is now about a metre tall and they are outside enjoying the summer. Obviously I'll have to bring them in for the winter and I'm concerned that, if they keep growing at the rate they are now, they'll be too tall! How do I encourage them to stop growing upwards and to start growing outwards? They all have only one major stem. Thank you!

Positive Vestia On Jun 16, 2009, Vestia from San Francisco, CA wrote:

In my old garden near Land's End in San Francisco this grew beautifully into a 6'+ umbrella-headed tree. Its very much like a Brugmansia in growth, and in its needs for water and constant feeding. First fruit set in about 5 months from seed and I had fruit at some stage most of the time after that. Not a big fan of the fruit myself. I have a friend who is even more successful than me - he gives away buckets. I concur the plants are short-lived, but they're easy to grow from fresh seed.

Positive IanSGarden On Oct 18, 2008, IanSGarden from Johannesburg
South Africa wrote:

I have just been given an envelope-full of Tree Tomato seed. It will be my first experience growing this plant in Johannesburg, South Africa. I understand that it does perform here.

Negative stressbaby On Jul 16, 2006, stressbaby from Fulton, MO wrote:

I should qualify my comments by saying that I grow this plant in the greenhouse in zone 5b/6a.

There are many plants superior to this one for greenhouse growing. My plant rapidly grew from a small 6" cutting to over 3' x 3' in under a season. It flowered early but the fruit set was poor. I agree with the comment that it is an aphid magnet...whiteflies, too. Finally, it has the peculiar, distracting scent of an old, musty sleeping bag. It will not earn a permanent place in my GH.

Neutral eje On Apr 1, 2005, eje from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Got two of these spring a year ago. They were about 7 feet tall by the following December and started flowering. Unfortunately, the drainage wasn't good enough in the container I was growing one of them in, and it died of fungus related disease. The other one was planted in the ground, and continued flowering until I removed it in March. I didn't notice any particular scent to the flowers.

Spectacular leaves, they are just too big for any of the spaces I garden in.

For such large plants, they have very shallow root systems and are a bit prone to tilting and tipping. Probably best in a somewhat sheltered location. They are also aphid magnets. Did not set fruit for me.

Neutral SherryB On Jun 27, 2004, SherryB from Poway, CA wrote:

I am in San Diego and my tree (small bush still) of 3 months has big beautiful leaves, but every few days the leaves get all limp and droopy. The soil is damp all the way through the pot. How much light, sun and wind do these plants tolerate?

Positive angelam On Apr 7, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

This plant is quite short lived, but easy to propogate by layering or cutting, so have a replacement ready for when the tree starts to deteriorate. (6-8 years is my experience).The yield will fall sharply and branches will start to die-back.
I don't like the fruit raw or poached. But it makes a wonderful chutney, I don't remove the seeds, just skin the fruit in the same manner as for tomato.

Positive kkane On Sep 14, 2003, kkane from Davis, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I got my tree as a 6" rooted cutting, and it has grown to about 13 feet in about 8 months. Its flowers are wonderfully fragrant. It has yet to set fruit, though. Perhaps that is because it is the plant's first year here, or maybe because it has gone above 100 degrees most days since flowering began.

I really love the plant, though its huge leaves are somewhat overpowering in my small yard. It does mix well with my other subtropicals, tho'.

Neutral Terry On Apr 12, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This tropical native of Peru can be grown in sub-tropical areas of the U.S., but prefers higher elevations, and won't bear as much fruit as it would in its native habitat.

Like its cousins of the Lycopersicon genus, the egg-size fruit is edible, typically made into jams or conserve; the skin and seeds should be removed before cooking. Easily grown from seed or cuttings.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Muang Chiang Rai,
Davis, California
Los Angeles, California
Poway, California
San Francisco, California
Honomu, Hawaii
Lafayette, Louisiana
Sweet Home, Oregon
Stafford, Texas

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