Litchi Tomato or Morelle De Balbis
75-90 days. The most intriguing garden berry we have ever seen, and with superb creamy and mild cherry flavor. A totally unique fruit, it is delightful to imagine litchi tomato into myriad culinary interpretations, from mock cherry pies to chutneys and pickles. Its Latin name is Solanum sisymbriifolium, but it goes by many aliases: Vila Vila in Latin America, litchi tomato in the U.S., and in France, Morelle de Balbis. It is a favorite fruit here at Baker Creek and has even been seen growing in the home garden of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. While the alien-like plants may seem like a new innovation, litchi tomato was celebrated in seed catalogs of antiquity as an exotic and delicious fruit. The 1896 Wilson’s Seed Farm catalog featured a plant referred to as Solanum anthrophagorum. It was described as a bright red fruit that lends well to pies and sauces. The Wilson’s catalog also told of the fruit being used as a condiment for a cannibal’s meal of human flesh in Fiji. Botanists believe the litchi tomato to be native to South America, yet early accounts mention it as a plant growing in the islands of the South Pacific. Large plants grow to 5 feet and are covered with thorns, sweet red fruit, and large white flowers. Lovely to look at, but be careful with the thorns! The fruit is about the size of a cherry and tastes like a cherry crossed with a tomato. A very pretty and attractive plant that originated in South America, but has been naturalized in many countries. You can grow litchi tomato just as you would grow regular tomatoes. A great source of vitamins A and C!
- 8-12 hours of Sun
- Sprouts in 14-21 Days
- Ideal Temperature: 75-85 Degrees F
- Seed Depth: 1/8"
- Plant Spacing: 18"
- Frost Hardy: No
- Solanum sisymbriifolium
Growing Tips: Start transplants indoors 6-10 weeks before last frost, barely covering. Hold at warm temps, 70-85F; do not allow soil to dry out. Transplant after last frost.