Posted on 16 October 2008 by

We Are Family – Exploring the Tomato’s Siblings

By Vanessa Richins

There are quite a few interesting members of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade Family.

Of course, tomato is the most important, but here are some of the others.

Potatoes: We are all familiar with the potato. You should be careful planting potatoes and tomatoes near each other, because they can get some of the same diseases.

You could also save room in your garden and graft a tomato plant to the top of a potato plant. The yield for both will be less than if you grew the plants on their own, but it will certainly save space. Also, watch out for green potatoes – they contain a nerve toxin called solanine. You would have to eat a lot (4.5lb) before it started having an effect, but better safe than sorry.

Peppers: Tomatoes and peppers are beneficial to each other, so plant some of each! Plus, you can then make some delicious salsa or pasta sauces.

Eggplant: You could also experiment with grafting by using an eggplant and a tomato plant (Eggplant and potato can also be done)

Petunia: If you looked at tomato and petunia plants, would you have thought they were related? What a surprise!

Nighshade: Keep a watch out for nightshade in your garden, as it is poisonous. The deadly nightshade’s berries turn black, but the bittersweet nightshade’s berries turn red, and could be accidentally eaten if someone mistook it for a small tomato.

Datura and Brugmansia: Be careful with these tomato relatives also. They have gorgeous trumpet shaped flowers, but all parts of these plants are poisonous, or at the very least, narcotic.

These are only a few of the many plants in the Nightshade family. In the end, we all return to the best one of all – the tomato!

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