The tamarillo is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae. It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit. The botanical name of tamarillo is Solanum betaceum. It is also known as the tree tomato, tomate de árbol, tomate andino, tomate serrano, blood fruit, tomate de yuca, tomate de españa, sachatomate, berenjena, chilto and tamamoro in South America, and terong Belanda (Dutch eggplant) in Indonesia. It is popular globally, especially in Peru, Colombia, New Zealand, Ecuador, Rwanda, Burundi, Australia, Bhutan and the United States. The tamarillo is native to the Andes of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Today it is still cultivated in gardens and small orchards for local production, and it is one of the most popular fruits in these regions.
The plant is a fast-growing tree. Peak production is reached after 4 years, and the life expectancy is about 5 to 12 years. The tree usually forms a single upright trunk with lateral branches. The flowers and fruits hang from the lateral branches. The leaves are large, simple and perennial, and have a strong pungent smell. The flowers are pink-white, and form clusters of 10 to 50 flowers. They produce 1 to 6 fruits per cluster. Plants can set fruit without cross-pollination, but the flowers are fragrant and attract insects. Cross-pollination seems to improve fruit set. The roots are shallow and not very pronounced, therefore the plant is not tolerant of drought stress and can be damaged by strong winds. Tamarillos will hybridize with many other solanaceae, though the hybrid fruits will be sterile, and unpalatable in some instances.
Table of Contents
3 - 18 feet
5.0 - 8.5
Types and Varieties of Tamarillo
Types of Tamarillo:
Red tamarillos are not only small but also feature an oval to an egg shape. They also have pointed ends and average about 4-6 cm in diameter and 6-8 cm in length. They have smooth and glossy skin that is taut and thin. When the red Tamarillo is ripe it has an orange-gold color to a muted and red-brown color when mature. The skin of the red Tamarillo may also bear purple and crimson hues although it depends on the variety. Just underneath the surface of the red Tamarillo, the flesh is semi-firm, with both orange and succulent with a consistency of aqueous.
The yellow Tamarillo fruit also referred to as the golden Tamarillo, has an egg shape with a glossy tangerine hued skin, as well as a succulent flesh, which contains small soft edible seeds. This type of Tamarillo has thin skin, and it’s far too bitter and tannin-rich for humans to consume. When this yellow Tamarillo is ripe, it tends to have bright flesh, plus it’s also piquant in flavor, with an additional pleasant sweet-tart balance. The only disadvantage of the yellow Tamarillo is that it’s only available in the summer months. It is an evergreen tree that measures 2 to 4 meters in height and produces abundant fruits.
Dwarf Tamarillo, also known as Solanum abutiloides, is a species plant that belongs to the family Solanaceae. It is native to Bolivia and Argentina, and also grows well as a weedy plant in rocky areas or even on stream banks or scrubland. It is also a plant that is known for growing rapidly and strongly.
Varieties of Tamarillo:
This is probably the most common tamarillo and is often seen in supermarkets. It is quite tangy, but lovely to eat fresh or to use in sauces, pickles and chutney.
This type has light orange skin with creamy flesh slightly and is sweeter than ruby red. Eat it fresh or use it in a variety of sweet or savory recipes.
Oratia red is a large tamarillo that is dark red in color and has a tangy flavor. I use this for jams and other preserves. If I eat it fresh, I generally sprinkle sugar on the flesh.
This is a nice tamarillo to eat fresh. Much less tangy than the red varieties, but still good for preserves as well.
Originating in California, this is a large red variety often weighing up to 3 ounces. Rothamer has deep yellow flesh with red seeds and is sweeter than most other varieties. This plant is a vigorous grower and bears a lot of fruit.
Large with golden yellow flesh and skin, this is a nice tasting tamarillo. It’s great fresh on its own or in things like fruit salad to give it an exotic taste.
Cyphomandra corymbiflora produces whitish-green fruits that are smaller than the typical tamarillo. It can grow in temps down to 15°F.
Since tamarillos are not frost-hardy, they should be moved to light and frost-free place in winter. Therefore, cultivation is only recommended in a planter.
The tree tomato prefers a partially shady to a sunny location.
Planting is best done in spring when there is no longer any threat of night frost after the ice saints (mid-May). You can also grow your tree tomato from seeds. From April you can sow the seeds in the compost. We recommend that you use special seed compost. This contains few nutrients, which means that the young plants are stimulated to increase their root growth. It is sufficient to cover the tamarillo seeds with a thin layer of soil and press them down.
You should keep the soil constantly moist for the next three weeks, it is practical to use a foil over the pot. It is best to place the seeds in a bright place that is at least 20 ° C warm. You can see the first seedlings after about two weeks. If necessary, you can separate these after a few weeks and put them outdoors after mid-May. The next time you repot, you can use a more nutrient-rich potting soil.
Due to their strong growth and their high water requirements, high-quality potting soil is particularly important for the tamarillo. This soil should have a high water storage capacity and guarantee a good supply of nutrients. It is also advisable to choose peat-free soil to avoid environmental damage from peat extraction. Organic potting soil combines all of these important properties and is therefore ideal for promoting the formation of flowers and fruits in your tamarillo.
Use a fertilizer of NPK 5:6:6, and apply it around the dripline in spring, summer and late winter. I apply a good handful every 4 feet or so.
Tamarillos are not drought resistant. During a hot and dry summer, I water daily, though you don’t want to allow the soil to become saturated. Mulch for good water retention.
Tamarillo fruit on new wood. Prune each year after fruiting to encourage new growth.
When your tamarillo is new, prune to 4 feet high to encourage spreading outwards rather than up.
You can expect the first fruits from the second year of standing. Depending on the location, the fruits of the tree tomato ripen in late summer to autumn. The fruits are ripe when they have taken on their varietal color between orange and dark red and give way slightly when pressed.
The fruits can weigh up to 100 grams and are divided into chambers containing seeds. The tamarillo pulp is yellow-orange in color.
We recommend that you process the tamarillo fruits quickly after harvesting or consume them fresh, as they cannot be stored well.
Propagation of the Tamarillo
If your neighbors or friends have also taken a liking to the tree tomato, you can easily propagate them. Propagation is possible via seeds or cuttings. You can take the tree tomato seeds from ripe fruits. You should let the black seeds dry for one to two days and then sow them in the sowing compost.
For propagation via cuttings, you can cut off a piece of shoot about 20 centimeters long with a leaf on a strong and healthy shoot. The optimal time for this is early summer.
During this time the plant grows vigorously and the cuttings have enough time to form roots until winter. Put the fresh shoots in moist potting soil without drying them and cover the cuttings with a foil with a few holes. This prevents it from drying out. A good location is warm but shady. After a few weeks, the cuttings should have roots.
Pests and Plant Diseases
There are a few issues you’ll need to deal with when growing tamarillos. Generally, you’ll go season to season without too many problems, but there are a few things to look out for.
Snails love tamarillo flowers and can decimate an entire tree of flowers in less than a week. Use snail pellets at the base of the tree if you have a lot of snails.
Aphids suck the sap from your tamarillo plant and at the same time cause other issues like sooty mold. Blast the bugs off the tree with a spray of water. If the infestation continues, use regular applications of neem oil or insecticidal soap.
Tamarillo leaves often have a less than desirable odor to them and it can attract whitefly. I’ve found that if I get whitefly, I get a lot on the tamarillo tree.
Control these aphid relatives by encouraging parasitic wasps, hang sticky traps in the tree, and use insecticidal soaps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
When humidity is high, tamarillo can be affected by powdery mildew. I’ve noticed that my tamarillo get it every second year for some reason. I use a homemade baking soda spray as soon as I see the first signs of the white spots.
Cucumber Mosaic Virus
This disease distorts the leaves on the plant and causes them to become mottled. Plant growth is stunted. This virus often goes hand in hand with aphid infestations.
Keep weeds at bay around the roots of the tamarillo tree as they often harbor insects that cause more issues. Be sure to keep aphids away from your plants. Clean your garden tools between use to prevent spreading the disease.
Benefits of Tamarillo Fruits
Health Benefits of Tamarillo Fruits could we get from its nutrients. Rich in nutrients, tamarillo provides many benefits to human body. The main components of tamarillo fruit which give benefist to the body is their antioxidant. Tamarillo is excellent source of antioxidant and one of fruit with high antioxidant level. Below are the list of tamarillo benefits that you can find out.
1. Promotes digestion
Tamarillo contains high dietary fiber that can improve digestion function. Eating tamarillo regularly can help bowel movement and increase the nutrient absorption inside the body.
2. Relieve constipation
Fiber in tamarillo is not only can improve digestion but it can help to relieve unconfortable feeling due to hard defecation process. The fiber constent in tamarillo can increase bulk on stomach and sogften it. This will make the stool easier to pass the colon or large intestines.
3. Prevent cancer
Tamarillo contains high antioxidant level which can protect the body from developing almost all types of cancer. The total antioxidant in tamarillo based on ORAC value is 1659 per 100 gr fresh tamarillo. The main antioxidant in tamarillo are the pigment athocyanins, poplyphenolic, flavonoid and chlorogenic acid. Those antioxidant protect all body cells from any damage that caused by free radical infection that leads to DNA mutation. DNA damage is the beginning of the cancer cells development.
4. Prevent diabetes
Tamarillo contains fiber that can stabilize the blood sugar level within the body and it also a food with low glycemic index that didn’t cause the riss of blood sugar. Tamarillo also contains chlorogenic acid that play important role in delay the onset of diabetes and increase insulin sensitiivity. Consuming tamarillo can significantly help to prevent the development of diabetes especially type 2 diabetes.
5. Improve vision
Tamarillo is excelent source of caratenoids and Vitamin A. Those may protect the eyes from any damages that caused by external or internal factors. Vitamin A in tamarillo also can maintain and improve healthy vision, it also prevent the eyes from developing cataract and prevent aging on eye that called as macula degeneration.
6. Increase metabolism
Tamarillo contains various vitamin B complex that are important in maintaining healthy metabolism. Vitamin B complexs are the key of of several metabolic enzyme which can improve energy production to provide the body cells with sufficient energy.
7. Lower blood pressure
In 100 gr of tamarillo fruit you can get 321 mg of potassium. This amount of potassium can help to maintain normal heart beat and blood pressure. This make tamarillo a great snack for hypertension patients.
8. Prevent anemia
Tamarillo is completed with iron and it can prevent the body from development anemia since it is the main mineral that is part of the red blood cells. Anemia is body condition that can cause weakness and several problem to human health. Anemia occur due to lack of red blood cell that responsible in transferring oxygen and nutrients to the all part of the body.
9. Maintain healthy skin
Due to high of vitamin C, tamarillo can help to keep skin tight, firm, bright and young. Who doesnt want to get this benefits? By consuming tamarillo regularly it is not impossible to get beauty skin. Tamarillo also packed with vitamin E taht is important in keep skin elasticity. Both vitamin C and vitamin E can promotes the production of collagens within skin tissue and collagen is known as aging fighter.
10. Help in weight loss
Tamarillo is a low calorie food that will make a great snack during your diet period. It also high in dietary fiber which want to cut down the fat cell within the body. You can just eaten the fruit raw or make it as juice to get this benefits.
11. Treat tonsililis
Tonsilitis is a disorder which attack the lymph node or tonsil within the mouth. Tonsilitis happen due to inflammation which caused by several factors such as infection of bacteria or disorder of lymphatic nodes itself. Colombian people believe that tamarillo can be used to treat tonsilitis.
12. Reduce cholesterol
Health Benefits of Tamarillo Fruits also best choices for reduce cholesterol level. Tamarillo contains fiber that can increase the good cholesterol and decrease the level of bad fat or cholesterol within the body. Consuming tamarillo after eating high cholesterol food or along the meal can help you to reduce the effect of cholesterol.
13. Prevent atherosclerosis
As tamarillo can reduce the cholesterol inside the body so it also give benefits in protect the arteries lining from developing plaque or aggregation which can cause arteries thickening or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is one factor that increase the risk of heart disease.
14. Prevent heart disease
Reducing cholesterol, prevent atheroscleoris, lower blood pressure, these package makes tamarillo as one of good food to maintain healthy heart function. Tamarillo also contains potassium and manganese which important to keep normal heart beat and rhytm.
15. Boost immunity
All the antioxidants and nutrients content of tamarillo can slightly boost immune system. Tamarillo also contains vitamin C that alsmost same to oranges and vitamin C known as body immune booster. The vitamin C can protect the immune cells and strengthen it to fight disease or microorganism infection.
16. Rejuvenate cells in the organs
Tamarillo contains protein and amino acids that can promote body cell rejuvenation or production of new cells. This will actually help in p=repairing any damage that occur in the body including fasten the wound healing on skin area.
17. Prevent alzheimer and Parkinson disease
Both alzheimer and parkinson disease are disorder that caused by damage in brain and causing memory lost and paralyze body. Tamarillo contains high antioxidant that can protect the brain cells from damage and keeping healthy nerve function within the brain.
If you want to eat the tamarillo fruits fresh, you can peel them or cut them in half and scoop out the pulp. The pulp of the tamarillo has a sweet and sour aroma and can be sprinkled with a little sugar depending on your taste. The fruits of the tree tomato not only taste delicious, but they are also healthy. They contain vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The tamarillo can also be processed excellently. Especially in the form of spreads and jams, the fruits are a treat. In a chutney, they also go very well with hearty dishes.
The fruits are high in pectin and therefore have good properties for preserves. However, they oxidize and lose color when not treated. Yellow fruit types are better suited to industrial use.