[tuh-mey-toh, -mah-]
tomato, plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), related to the potato and eggplant. Although cultivated in Mexico and Peru for centuries before the European conquest, the tomato is one of the newest plants to be used on a large scale for human food. When the Spanish explorers brought back seed from South America, the plant was grown merely for ornament; it was known as the love apple. Though the fruit was described as a salad ingredient before 1600, it was commonly regarded as poisonous, and only within the last century has it become recognized as a valuable food. Indeed, all parts of the plant but the fruit are toxic. It was reintroduced to the United States as a food plant c.1800 and now ranks third among our vegetable crops. It is very popular as a salad vegetable, yet three quarters of the crop is processed into juice, canned tomatoes, soups, catsup, and tomato pastes. It is the most widely used canned vegetable. Numerous varieties (ranging from the small cherry tomato to the large beefsteak) are cultivated in practically all parts of the United States except the warmest regions. One of the worst tomato pests is the cutworm. Tomato-seed oil (from waste seed of canning processes) is sometimes extracted, chiefly in Italy. An antibiotic, tomatine, is also extracted from the seed. Technically the tomato is a fruit, although it is commonly considered a vegetable because of its uses. The tomato is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Solanales, family Solanaceae.
or cotton bollworm or tomato fruitworm

Moth larva (Heliothis zea, family Noctuidae) that damages corn, tomato, cotton, and other seasonal crops. The smooth, fleshy, green or brown caterpillars feed on corn kernels near the tip of the ear and burrow into tomatoes and cotton bolls. Four or five generations of the pale brown adult moths, with wingspans of 1.3 in. (3.5 cm), are produced annually.

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Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).

Any fruit of the numerous cultivated varieties of Lycopersicon esculentum, a plant of the nightshade family. The plant is generally much branched and has hairy, strongly odorous, feathery leaves. The drooping, clustered, yellow flowers are followed by red, scarlet, or yellow fruits, which hang from the many branches of one weak stem. The tomato fruit varies in shape from spherical to elongate and in size from 0.6 in. (1.5 cm) across to more than 3 in. (7.5 cm) across. The Spanish were bringing tomatoes from South America to Europe by the early 16th century; they were introduced to North America from Europe by the 1780s. Tomatoes are used raw, cooked as a vegetable or puree, and pickled, canned, and sun-dried. The term also applies to the fruit of L. pimpinelli folium, the tiny currant tomato.

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The Three Sisters is a variety of tomato, so named because the plant grows vegetables in three different shapes, each given plant producing only one of the three:

See also: List of tomato cultivars

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