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Tomatoes and Solanaceae

Updated: Apr 6



The tender yellow petals on the common Tomato plant: Solanum lycopersicum, before fruiting. Although thought of as a harmless fruit or indeed vegetable from the nutritionists perspective, the genus Solanum refers to the deadly nightshade family Solanaceae to which Tomatoes belong. This family contains the famous Atropa belladona ‘Deadly nightshade' - used as an assassins poison and a killer of Kings... Thankfully, the deadly compounds found in Deadly Nighshade called Atropine and Scopolamine are not present in Tomato plants... However, they do contain a slightly less toxic compound called Tomatine, but this is not present in the ripe edible fruits of the plant. Nonetheless, the fear of the relationship between Deadly Nightshade and Tomatoes hindered their palatable introduction. It was only in the early 1800’s that they became widely used in British cuisine.


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