Postharvest Handling Work should continue on storage and handling to increase shelf life and to enable tamarillos to be shipped by sea—a development expected to greatly improve the export situation for most countries. Important advances have already been made.
Hybrids Several closely related species (see below) produce good fruit, and there is the potential of developing hybrid tamarillos, perhaps with seedless fruits and different flavors. There seem to be substantial genetic barriers to interspecific hybrids, however.8 Nonetheless, cell fusion and gene splicing, which seem particularly easy in Solanaceae, might prove practical.
Tissue Culture Tissue-culture techniques have been developed for the tamarillo. Although their main use will be in multiplying improved material for planting, they are possibly useful in genetic selection and in propagating of difficult hybrid crosses and haploids. Colchicine treatment to produce fertile plants from haploids should be attempted.
Work is currently under way to select a virus-resistant strain with the aid of tissue culture. In the meantime, however, virus resistance should be sought in wild species.
Botanical Name Cyphomandra betacea (Cavanilles) Sendtner
Family Solanaceae (nightshade family)
Spanish: tomate de árbol, tomate extranjero, lima tomate, tomate de palo, tomate francés
Portuguese: tomate de érvore, tomate francês
English: tree tomato, tamarillo
Dutch: struiktomaat, térong blanda
Italian: pomodoro arboreo
Origin. The tamarillo is unknown in the wild state, and the area of its origin is at present unknown. It is perhaps native to southern Bolivia (for example, the Department of Tarija) and northwestern Argentina (the provinces of Jujuy and Tucumán).
Description. The plant is a fast-growing herbaceous shrub that reaches a height of 1–5 m (rarely 7.5 m). It generally forms a single upright trunk with spreading lateral branches. The leaves are large, shiny, hairy, prominently veined, and pungent smelling.