Tomato - Solanum lycopersicum, click for a larger image
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Tomato - Solanum lycopersicum, click for a larger image

Tomato - Solanum lycopersicum
Family - Solanaceae

The tomato plant is a familiar member of the nightshade family Solanaceae producing an edible red fruit.  Reputed to have originated in Central and South America as a perennial, numerous varieties of tomato are now grown worldwide in temperate areas, and in greenhouses production throughout the year as an annual.  It is a sprawling vine typically pubescent, growing to around 1-2 meters (3-6 ft) in height, more if supported, producing a fruit that is initially pale green, maturing to various red, orange or yellow fruits and sizes depending on variety and conditions.

It is a worldwide commercial crop eaten cooked or raw and consumed in various ways, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks.  Compound leaves with some varieties reminiscent of the potato, are 10–25cm (4–10 in) long, densely hairy and pinnate.  Yellow flowers 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) across with 5/6 petals in a cymes of 3-12, mature to the familiar usually red fruit, young fruits harvested whilst still green can be used in chutneys.

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