Tomato 'Paul Robeson'

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

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
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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

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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 (2 reports)

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

Columbus, Ohio

Massillon, Ohio

Allison Park, Pennsylvania

Avondale, Pennsylvania

Austin, Texas

Elgin, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)

Liberty Hill, Texas

West Jordan, Utah

Cascade, Virginia

Fairmont, West Virginia

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 11, 2017, Bigfeet from Los Alamos, NM wrote:

One of eight varieties grown from seed this year. Paul Robeson was the first to sprout, flower, and set fruit. Unexpectedly cold-hardy. A gawky, thin-stemmed plant that topped out right at four feet. Seems to have higher water needs than other tomatoes. I am getting goods yields.

Fruits are slightly flattened, irregular, and softball-sized on average. They ripen to a dusky brick red with olive-brown shoulders. No problems with cracking, but they get "stretch marks" on top.

The tomatoes are soft-yet-meaty tomato with minimal gel. The flesh color is an amazing beet red. Great black tomato flavor, rich and not super sweet, with a subtle ham flavor.

Will be growing these again.


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.


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

Mixed results on production over 2 years and several plants, but these often taste great and my family likes them, so I will give a positive rating. I wish they were a bit bigger.


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.


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.


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 tha... read more


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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'


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.


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.


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.


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

Incredible flavor! A favorite.


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.