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lycopersicon esculentum L.
The word tomato derives from a word in the Nahuatl language, tomatl. In 1753 the tomato was placed in the genus Solanum by Linnaeus as Solanum lycopersicum L. (derivation, 'lyco', wolf, plus 'persicum', peach, i.e., "wolf-peach")
whole plant in gross proving; ripe in fruit in allen's one.
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Lamiidae / Tubiflorae; Scrophulariales; Solanaceae - Tomato / Potato Family
Proved by Gross; Allen: Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. V, p. 627; Clarke: A Dictionary of Mat. Med., Vol. II, p. 325.
Description of the substance
The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, native to Central and South America, from Mexico and Peru. It is an annual plant, typically growing to 1-3 m long, with a weakly woody stem that usually scrambles over other plants. The leaves are 10-25 cm long, pinnate, with 5-9 leaflets, each leaflet up to 8 cm long, with a serrated margin; both the stem and leaves are densely glandular-hairy. The flowers are 1-2 cm across, yellow, with five pointed lobes on the corolla; they are borne in a cyme of 3-12 together. The fruit is an edible, brightly colored (usually red, from the pigment lycopene) berry, 1-2 cm diameter in wild plants, commonly much larger in cultivated forms.
The tomato is now grown world-wide for its edible fruits, with thousands of cultivars having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions. Cultivated tomatoes vary in size from 'cherry tomatoes', about the same 1-2 cm size as the wild tomato, up to 'beefsteak' tomatoes 10 cm or more in diameter. The most widely grown commercial tomatoes tend to be in the 5-6 cm diameter range. Most cultivars produce red fruit, but a number of cultivars with yellow or orange fruit are also available. Tomatoes grown for canning are often elongated, 7-9 cm long and 4-5 cm diameter; these are known as 'plum tomatoes'.
Diseases and pests
Tomato cultivars vary widely in their resistance to disease. Modern hybrids focus on improving disease resistance over the heirloom plants. One common tomato disease is tobacco mosaic virus, and for this reason smoking or use of tobacco products should be avoided around tomatoes. Various forms of mildew and blight are also common tomato afflictions, which is why tomato varieties are usually marked with letters like VFN, which refers to disease resistance to verticillium wilt. fusarium fungus, and nematodes.
Some common tomato pests are tomato hornworms, aphids, cabbage loopers, whiteflies, tomato fruitworms, flea beetles, and Colorado potato beetles.
Tomatoes are often picked unripe, and ripened in storage with ethylene. Ethylene is the plant hormone produced by many fruits and acts as the cue to begin the ripening process. These tend to keep longer, but have poorer flavor and a mealier, starchier texture than tomatoes ripened on the plant. They may be recognized by their color, which is more pink or orange than the ripe tomato's deep red.
Recently, stores have begun selling "tomatoes on the vine" which are ripened still connected to a piece of vine. These tend to have more flavor (at a price premium) than artificially-ripened tomatoes, but still may not be the equal of local garden produce.
Also relatively recently, slow-ripening cultivars of tomato have been developed by crossing a non-ripening variety with ordinary tomato cultivars. Cultivars were selected whose fruits have a long shelf life and at least reasonable flavor.