Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tomato
Lycopersicon lycopersicum 'Paul Robeson'

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lycopersicon (ly-koh-PER-see-kon) (Info)
Species: lycopersicum (ly-koh-PER-see-kum) (Info)
Cultivar: Paul Robeson

» View all varieties of Tomatoes

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Ferment seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Growing Habit:

Fruit Shape:

Fruit Size:
Medium (under one pound)

Days to Maturity:
Mid (69-80 days)
Late (more than 80 days)

Fruit Colors:

Seed Type:

Fresh, slicing

Disease Resistance:
Unknown - Tell us

Leaf Type:
Regular Leaf

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There are a total of 8 photos.
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13 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Pitcom On Mar 31, 2015, Pitcom from Avondale, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a must grow variety. It has an incredible, rich and earthy flavor. Tomatoes are extremely meaty and perfect for slicing. It's one of the best I have ever grown.

Positive CaliforniaGuy On Aug 17, 2013, CaliforniaGuy from Lakewood, CA wrote:

Mixed results on production over 2 years and several plants, but these often taste great, so I will give a positive rating. In my personal experience, the fruits can be a weird color that is hard for me to to tell when fully ripe (kind of a yellow entwined in deep red with greenish, darker shoulders), this may be due to the high Summer heat and soil in my area though. I wish they were a bit bigger.

Positive tomatochick On May 17, 2013, tomatochick from Danbury, CT wrote:

Fabulous flavor! Of all the "dusky" cultivars I've grown & eaten (and there have been many!), this one's my fave. Good yield, earthy, almost smoky flavor. I also liked this because, unlike some of the other dusky varieties (Cherokee Purple, Black Krims, I'm lookin' at you!), this one isn't very susceptible to cracking and seems to have a bit of a thicker skin.

Positive surburbfarmer On Feb 28, 2013, surburbfarmer from Bellflower, CA wrote:

I grew this out in the summer of 2011. It produced pretty well, even in mid summer, and had a unique flavor that set it apart from the pack. The first one I ate was from a plant in a container, and it had a fruity flavor that was unlike anything I've ever tasted. The rest of the season, they tasted deep, smoky, rich and acidic, like a good black tomato should. This has a permanent spot in my So-Cal heirloom garden.

Neutral PrincetonCarl On Apr 9, 2012, PrincetonCarl from Princeton, NJ wrote:

I had only modest success in a poor year for tomatoes here in NJ.

I bought the seed because I live in Princeton NJ where Robeson was born; there are several things (including a street) named for him here. The history is not completely clear, but it seems he was not admitted to my alma mater, the famous university across the street from town, because of racial prejudice. At Rutgers he was valedictorian of his class and the first black All-American football player.

His frustration with racism in the US led him to travel to the Soviet Union where the communists were quite a bit more welcoming, and indeed the tomato named for him is a product of Soviet agronomy named in his honor.

Also, his artistic and literary pursuits ranged a lot farther than opera; check out his bio on Wikipedia.

Neutral liannenc On Feb 20, 2010, liannenc from Concord, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I found 'Paul Robeson' just okay. Initially it would not set fruit, but I think that was because it was just TOO hot & sunny where I had them. After I started sheltering them they set better, but then I found that almost every fruit cracked. I don't mind that from a cosmetic standpoint, but these cracked so badly that many were inedible. When we were able to eat some, I found the flavor underwhelming. My husband liked them a lot, though, and preferred them to the more zippy, acidic tomatoes we had. I may grow it again for him, but I'm going to try some other varieties first.

Negative Melissande On Oct 12, 2009, Melissande from Chillicothe, OH wrote:

My girlfriend who lives 20m miles west of me grew these for me, and they refused to set fruit at all, not one all year long. Right next to them, she grew 'heart of compassions' and they were fine. I grew black paste tomatoes this year and they too, grew normally. Also, FWIW, we had a wet, cool year.

Neutral SueG_ME On Aug 25, 2009, SueG_ME from Belgrade, ME wrote:

Nice tomato but the first of my 13 or so varieties to fall prey to 2009's late blight. Had to pull up all of my plants of this variety, salvaged one ripening fruit and several green ones. I'm keeping an eye on the varieties planted adjacent to it and have so far been able to get by with selective defoliation of those.
I will try it again but note that it is susceptible to late blight.

Negative jenniferpa On Aug 18, 2009, jenniferpa from Allison Park, PA wrote:

I am underwhelmed with this tomato: while it has grown well (in containers) it is soft in texture and bland in flavor. Having read up on it, I believe it can be variable and we have had a fair amount of rain, interspersed with high (90s) temps, so maybe that's the reason. It shows reasonable disease resistance, but I won't be growing it again.

Wester Pennsylvannia

Positive fiveweight On Feb 28, 2009, fiveweight from Carmel, IN wrote:

My first season growing tomatoes, I grew a half dozen varieties in large pots trained up ropes under a swing set. The Paul Robeson was the first to set fruit, but only produced a half dozen tomatoes per plant this way (I know, it wasn't an ideal setup). It was the best tasting tomato and my first true taste of a ripe black. I had a lot of problems with rotting around the stem end that didn't affect other varieties, and they cracked more than the others but the taste was amazing and they didn't even get as dark as some of the pictures here. I'll do a better job this year and can't wait to see the results.

Positive paracelsus On Nov 7, 2008, paracelsus from Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Delicious tomatoes and a beautiful dark red/black. Didn't make as many or as big as my other beefsteaks this year, but I will still grow it again on account of the taste.

Positive scholl734 On Apr 29, 2008, scholl734 from Ypsilanti, MI wrote:

I loved this is so amazingly sweet and delicious. My only knock it that it wasn't a huge producer, but the tomatoes that I got were of my favorites.

Positive melody On Oct 10, 2006, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I'm not usually a fan of the 'red-black' tomatoes, generally, liking the 'pink-black' ones. Paul Robeson is an exception.

It's a very full-bodied flavor that is quite pleasing and one of the best dark fruited tomatoes I've had.

It's decently productive here in West KY, despite the horrible heat we had this summer, but it did get a fresh flush when the temps moderated.

It's Oct 10, and I still have a good set of fruit and they're of a respectable size despite the late season and declining light.

I give it an 'A'

Positive duraki On May 2, 2006, duraki from Bryan, TX wrote:

Ok my negative rating below was premature. I noticed NOW the plant is busting out with new little tomatoes all over, and in very hot weather. No foliage disease at all, and its May in Texas.

Plant simply refuses to set fruit. The plant is big and healthy, but has exactly one tomato on it...blossoms die and fall off. This is NOT happening to any of the others, including the Brandywine, so. By comparison, the Cherokee Purple has about 3 dozen little tomatoes on it. Will not grow Paul Robeson again.

Positive Suze_ On May 1, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

One of my favorite tomatoes. Great flavor. Gets very dark here in the south.
One of the best darks of the year in '06, and I grew several.

Positive davepays On Jul 10, 2005, davepays from Greenfield, MA (Zone 5b) wrote:

One heck of a tomato, rich, juicy, nice acid but not too tangy. Very flavorful, incredible tomato. No green shoulders. Don't know average size yet, first one was about 1/2 lb.

Positive calpsychik On Aug 18, 2004, calpsychik from Santa Cruz, CA wrote:

Incredible flavor! A favorite.

Positive kraig23 On Apr 20, 2003, kraig23 wrote:

I grew a "Paul Robeson" in a planter on my sunny balcony in Oakland, CA. I had heard that heirlooms do not do well in pots, but I tried it anyway. 75-90 days to fruit, and set tomatoes well into late November! The size was smaller than what I could expect this plant to produce had it been set in the ground, but still pretty impressive fruits 3/4-1 pound each. Color is very dark purple with a dark green top. Flavor is rich, smokey, and acidic. Makes a great salsa, sauce, or just for slices. I fermented the seeds and passed them on to my mother in the midwest where I expect it will grow very well in the warmer climate.


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

Altadena, California
Bellflower, California
Bonsall, California
Chico, California
Lakewood, California
Long Beach, California
Mountain View, California
North Hollywood, California
Oakland, California
Oceanside, California
Rancho Cucamonga, California
San Jose, California
Vista, California
Danbury, Connecticut
Wolcott, Connecticut
Alpharetta, Georgia
Carmel, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Agawam, Massachusetts
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
Ypsilanti, Michigan
Princeton, New Jersey
Three Bridges, New Jersey
Concord, North Carolina
Chillicothe, Ohio
Massillon, Ohio
Allison Park, Pennsylvania
Avondale, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Elgin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Liberty Hill, Texas
West Jordan, Utah
Cascade, Virginia
Fairmont, West Virginia

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