Monday, July 21, 2008

Tomato Genetics

They're weird things. Particularly when it comes to Heirloom tomatoes.

This is a Cherokee Chocolate, fresh from the vine today:

It's a lovely mahogany-brown colour. Here's the underside:

It's also a delicious tomato - earthy, juicy, with just a touch of sweetness.

It's a tomato with a fascinating history. This is its very closely relative, Cherokee Purple:

And they're extremely closely relatives. Because Cherokee Chocolate literally sprang from the loins of Cherokee Purple.

A number of years ago, Craig LeHoullier, an American grower and heirloom tomato expert, discovered a mahogany-brown tomato on his Cherokee Purple plant. Intrigued, he saved seeds from the brown tomato and grew them out the next season. Again, he saved seeds from the brown tomatoes that eventuated and grew them out the following season. Eventually, he stabilised the tomato variety now known as Cherokee Chocolate.

All the result of a spontaneous mutation of the colour gene in a Cherokee Purple tomato.

Lo and behold, the magic didn't stop there. Subsequently, one of Craig's Cherokee Chocolate plants threw up a green-when-ripe tomato, now stabilised and named Cherokee Green.

I have my fingers crossed for the Tomato God to work his genetic tricks in my tomato patch.


Liz P said...

Hi Robyn! I just discovered this 'other' blog of yours, and it's great! I have wondered what it would be like to have a garden in Italy, and now I can peek at yours:~)

Robyn said...

Liz - Thank you for dropping in. I really must post some of my garden sketches here before The Gardener totally takes over with Tomato Talk!