Herb: Tomato


Latin name: Lycopersicon esculentum


Synonyms: Lycopersicon lycopersicum


Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)



Medicinal use of Tomato:

The pulped fruit is an extremely beneficial skin-wash for people with oily skin. Sliced fruits are a quick and easy first aid treatment for burns, scalds and sunburn. A decoction of the root is ingested in the treatment of toothache. The skin of tomato fruits is a good source of lycopine, a substance that has been shown to protect people from heart attacks. It seems to be more effective when it is cooked and so can be obtained from food products such as tomato ketchup and tinned tomatoes. Lycopine has also been shown to have a very beneficial effect upon the prostate and is being used increasingly to treat enlarge prostate and the difficulties in urination that accompany this disorder. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and severe headaches.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

Flovering:
June to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Tomato:

Fruit - raw or cooked. It can be used as a savoury vegetable or flavouring in cooked foods, or can be eaten out of hand as a dessert fruit. It is much used in salads and as a flavouring in soups and other cooked foods. A juice made from the fruit is often sold in health food shops. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder that can be used as a flavouring and thickening agent in soups, breads, pancakes etc. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Suitable for culinary purposes. The seed is small and it would be very fiddly to utilize. It is only viable to use the seed as a source of oil if large quantities of the plants are being grown for their fruits and the seed is not wanted.

Other uses of the herb:

The strong aroma of this plant is said to repel insects from nearby plants. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It can be used in making soap. See the notes above regarding utilization. A spray made from tomato leaves is an effective but very poisonous insecticide. It is especially effective against ants but should be used with great caution because it will also kill beneficial insects and, if ingested, is toxic to humans. The pulp of the fruit is used cosmetically in face-packs.

Propagation of Tomato:

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination is usually quick and good. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich compost as soon as the first true leaf appears and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Seed can also be sown in situ under a cloche at the end of April, though in a cool summer the results may be disappointing. The seedcoat may carry tomato mosaic virus. However, by sowing the seed 15mm deep the seedcoat will remain below the soil surface when the seed germinates and the disease will be inactivated.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Lycopersicon esculentum:

All green parts of the plant are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.