Tamarillo - Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendt
Fruit and cross section
Fig. 1

Solanum betaceum, flower of the Tree Tomato. Native to the northern Andes, where the fruit is called Tamarillo. San Francisco Botanical Gardens
Fig. 2 magnifying glass
Solanum betaceum, flower of the Tree Tomato. Native to the northern Andes, where the fruit is called Tamarillo. San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

6 month old tamarillo seedlings
Fig. 5 magnifying glass
Tamarillo seedlings, 6 months old

Leaves and flowers
Fig. 6
Leaves and flowers

Unripe fruit
Fig. 9
Unripe fruit

Fruit hanging from the bush
Fig. 10
Fruit habit

Fig. 11

Fig. 12 

Cyphomandra betacea trees
Fig. 20

Fig. 21

Tree tomatoes- a typical crop in the Andes in Ecuador
Fig. 22

Tomato Tree
Fig. 26

Tree tomatoes, Ecuador
Fig. 27
Tree tomatoes, Ecuador

Tamarillos Indonesia
Fig. 28
Tamarillos, Indonesia

Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Miers
Fig. 29
Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Miers
Scientific name
Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendt
Common names
Tomate, tomate extranjero, tomate de arbol, tomate granadilla, granadilla, pix, and caxlan pix (Guatemala); tomate de palo (Honduras); arvore do tomate, tomate de arvore (Brazil); lima tomate, tomate de monte, sima (Bolivia); pepino de arbol (Colombia); tomate dulce (Ecuador); tomate cimarron (Costa Rica); and tomate francés (Venezuela, Brazil) 2
Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendtn.; Cyphomandra crassifolia (Ortega) J.F. Macbr.; Cyphomandra crassifolia (Ortega) Kuntze; Cyphomandra procera Wawra; Pionandra betacea (Cav.) Miers; Solanum betacea Cav.; Solanum crassifolium Ortega; Solanum insigne Lowe 8
Casana (Cyphomandra casana), Mountain Tomato (C. crassifolia), Guava Tamarillo (C. fragrans) 3
Distant affinity
Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopsersicum), Mexican Husk Tomato, Tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa), Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana), Pepino Dulce (Solanum muricatum), Naranjilla (S. quitoense), Cocona (S. sessiliflorum) 3
Central and South America and the West Indies
USDA hardiness zones
6-10 ft (1.82-3.04 m)
Plant habit
Perennial herbaceous shrub
Growth rate
Life of a commercial plantation is about 8 years
Pruning requirement
Annual pruning is advisable to eliminate branches that have already fruited and induce ample new shoots close to the main branches 2
Evergreen; heart-shaped; hairy; 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Androgynous; small, pinkish, fragrant; several times a year
2-3 in. (5.08-7.62 cm); oval; smooth; long stemmed; red skin; many small seeds; mature 60-90 days after flowering; produce their fruit on current season's growth
Could grow all year round
USDA Nutrient Content
Light requirement
Sun; will not grow in the shade
Soil tolerances
Fertile; good drainage
PH preference
Drought tolerance
Not tolerant
Wind tolerance
Protection from wind is necessary as the tree is shallow-rooted and easily blown over 2
Flood tolerance
Not tolerant; water standing for even a few days may kill the tree 2
Soil salt tolerance
Cold tolerance
Frost tender 32 °F (0 °C)
Plant spacing
5- 6 ft (1.52-1.83 M) in windy locations; 8-10 ft (2.44-3.05 m)
Shallow root system
Pest/disease resistance
Generally regarded as fairly pest-resistant
Known hazard
Unripe fruit is slightly toxic; juice stains badly

Reading Material

Tomato Tree- Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendt from the University of Florida pdf
Tamarillo (Tomato Tree) from the Twelve Fruits with Potential Value-Added and Culinary Uses from the University of Hawaii
Tree Tomato from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
Tamarillo from the California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
The Tomato Tree from the Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council

In 1970, or shortly before, the construed name "tamarillo" was adopted in New Zealand and has become the standard commercial designation for the fruit. 2
'Tamarillo' was coined in 1967 and is now internationally accepted - even in South America where the fruit was formerly known as 'Tomate de arbol'.  5


The genus Cyphomandra belongs to the family Solanaceae, which contains about 30 species of soft-wood shrubs that are all natives of Central and South America and the West Indies. 4
Most likely introduced from India, where the fruit is well-known, the tamarillo is actually native to the Andean region of South America. It can be found from Venezuela to as far south as Argentina and is a typical fruit of the Andean highlands.  5

Being a sub-tropical shrub, young trees are intolerant of frost; more mature trees will take a little frost as long as it is slight and infrequent. Trees prefer light, well-drained soils and need ample moisture throughout summer, however they will not stand waterlogging. The large leaves and extremely brittle branches make it very prone to wind damage, so they need to be protected with permanent windbreaks. The branches will break off easily when they are heavily laden with fruit, even in quite light winds. 4

Solanum betaceumSolanum betaceum
Fig. 7 Fig. 8

Borne in small, loose clusters near the branch tips, the fragrant flowers, 1/2 to 3/4 in (1.25-2 cm) wide, have 5 pale-pink or lavender, pointed lobes, 5 prominent yellow stamens, and green-purple calyx.  2

Flower cluster
Fig. 3 Fig. 4

The long-stalked, pendent fruit, borne singly, or in clusters of 3 to 12, is smooth, egg-shaped but pointed at both ends and capped with the persistent conical calyx. In size it ranges from 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) long and l 1/2 to 2 in (4-5 cm) in width. Skin color may be solid deep-purple, blood-red, orange or yellow, or red-and-yellow, and may have faint dark, longitudinal stripes. Flesh color varies accordingly from orange-red or orange to yellow or cream-yellow. While the skin is somewhat tough and unpleasant in flavor, the outer layer of flesh is slightly firm, succulent and bland, and the pulp surrounding the seeds in the two lengthwise compartments is soft, juicy, subacid to sweet; it is black in dark-purple and red fruits, yellow in yellow and orange fruits. 2

Fruit habitRipe tamarillo
FruitTamarillo longitidunal section
Fig. 13 Fig. 14 Fig. 15 Fig. 16
Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea)Solanum betaceum, own collectionTamarillo Indonesia
Fig. 17 Fig. 18 Fig. 19

There are apparently no named cultivars, but there are local preferences according to fruit color. Red fruits are chosen for the fresh fruit markets because of their appealing color. The dark-red strain (called "black") now leading in commercial plantings in New Zealand was obtained by selection around 1920 as a variation from the yellow and purple types grown up to that time. It was propagated and reselection thereafter resulted in this large, higher quality, red variety.
Yellow fruits are considered best for preserving because of their superior flavor. 2
Trees will produce fruit after 18 months but it is considered advisable to remove the first year’s fruit in order to strengthen the root system. 1

Tamarillos are ready to harvest when they develop the yellow or red color characteristic of the particular variety. To harvest, simply pull the fruit from the tree with a snapping motion, leaving the stem attached. The fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 weeks, but temperatures below 38° F can cause the skin to discolor. 6

There is no apparent pollination problem as the plant is self-fertile. Pollen transfer is accomplished by bees or shaking of the branches by the wind. 6

Seeds or cuttings may be used for propagation. Seeds produce a high-branched, erect tree, ideal for sheltered locations. The Tree tomato does not grow true from seed.
Cuttings develop into a shorter, bushy plant with low-lying branches, suitable for exposed, windy sites. The tree does not always come true from seed, but is most likely to if one is careful to take seed from red fruits with black seed pulp or yellow fruits with yellow
seed pulp.  5
Sown from seed, it will rapidly grow into an attractive, shrub-like bushy tree with large, green, pungent-smelling leaves. The plant will start flowering in its second growing season, and the sweet scent of its flowers alone makes it worth having in the garden. 2

Seedlings are field planted when they are 2 to 5 inches in height, spaced from 6 to 10 feet apart. In windy areas, they are often planted closer together. The flowers are often removed the first year and root growth encouraged. 1

Seedling trees are pruned back the first year after planting to a height of 3 or 4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) to encourage branching.
Annual pruning thereafter is advisable to eliminate branches that have already fruited and induce ample new shoots close to the main branches, inasmuch as fruit is produced on new growth. Otherwise, the tree will develop a broad top with fruits only on the outer fringe. And wide-spreading branches are subject to wind damage.  2

The tree tomato cannot tolerate prolonged drought and must have an ample water supply during extremely dry periods. A mulch is very beneficial in conserving moisture at such times. 2

A major pest on tamarillo is the tomato worm, the larva of the pyraustid moth Neoleucinodes elegantalis that also attacks the ordinary tomato and the pepino. Nematodes are a major problem in some areas. They affect the shallow root system and reduce the vigour and life of the plant. In soils heavily infested with nematodes it is frequently necessary to replant with new seedling material after two or three years. Aphids and white flies are sometimes a problem. 6

The principal disease is powdery mildew (both Erysiphe sp. and Oidium sp.), which may cause serious defoliation if not controlled. Minor problems include Sclerotinia disease (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum), the black lesions of which girdle stems and cause terminal wilting; and Ascochyta disease (Ascochyta sp.) which is evidenced by small, round, black, dead areas on leaves, especially mature leaves. Tree tomato mosaic virus causes pale mottling on leaves and sometimes on the fruits which has not been considered a serious disadvantage. Another virus disorder, called "bootlace virus", distorts the leaf, especially on young plants, reducing it to little more than the midrib. Affected plants are pulled up and destroyed.  2

Food Uses
Ripe tamarillos may be merely cut in half lengthwise, sprinkled with sugar (and chilled if you like) and served for eating by scooping out the flesh and pulp. 3
Tree tomatoes are highly versatile for culinary use. They can be used as a substitute for tomatoes, cut fresh in salads, served sweetened in desserts or added to spicy sauces. Chutney made with the fruit is highly valued in New Zealand and often found served in place of tomato ketchup. West Hawaii chefs have developed a number of recipes, curries and chutneys using the fruit. 1
The fruit should not be cut on a wooden or other permeable surface, as the juice will make an indelible stain. For other purposes, the skin must be removed, which is easily done by pouring boiling water over the fruit and letting it stand for 4 minutes before peeling. 3

Our First TamarilloTamarillo and persimmon flanLove sorbet, New Zeland.
Fig. 23 Fig.  24Fig. 25

Fig. 23. "We read how to eat them, and somewhere online, it just said to slice them open and eat them with a spoon, like a kiwi. Quite nice - both tart and sweet and it had seeds like a passion fruit. "
Fig. 24. Tamarillo and persimmon flan
Fig. 25. "Tamarillo flavour pictured, but then I tried grapefruit and fell in love. Made by Zest kitchen, and available from the SAFE shop on K road."

Medicinal Uses **
The peasants attribute to the fruit medicinal properties for alleviating respiratory diseases and combating anaemia. 8

Commonly referred to as tree tomato, the name tamarillo was devised in 1967 in New Zealand for marketing purposes. 1

Further Reading
The Tree Tomato from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
The Tree Tomato or 'Tamarillo' from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Brazenly Beautiful Tamarillo from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea) from the FAO Corporate Document Repository FAO
All in the Family - The Tamarillo and its Relatives from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

List of Growers and Vendors


1 Love, Ken. "Twelve Fruits with Potential Value-Added and Culinary Uses." ctahr.hawaii.edu. University of Hawaii at Manoa. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
2 Morton, J. "Tomato Tree." hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 437-440. 1987. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
3 "Tamarillo." crfg.org. 1969-1989. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
4 Fletcher, W.A. "The Tree Tomato or 'Tamarillo'." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. N.Z. Ministry of Agriculture, "Growing Tamarillos." Nov. 1990. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
5 Endt, Dick. "All in the Family - The Tamarillo and its Relatives." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Extract from Quandong Vol.17 No.3. July 1992. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
6 Schroeder, C.A. "Brazenly Beautiful Tamarillo." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Fruit Gardener (Magazine of the California Rare Fruit Growers) . Nov. 1990. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
7 "Solanum betaceum." tropical.theferns.info. Useful Tropical Plants. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
8 "Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea)." fao.org. Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective. (FAO Plant Production and Protection Series, no.26). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 1994. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.


Fig. 1 Fibonacci. Red and yellow tamarillos (tree tomatoes). 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 2 Culbert, Dick. Solanum betaceum, flower of the Tree Tomato. Native to the northern Andes, where the fruit is called Tamarillo. San Francisco Botanical Gardens. 2006. flickr.com. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 3 Howard, R. A. Cyphomandra betacea (Solanaceae). N.d. US National Herbarium, Department of Botany, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution.  Reynolds, Jamaica. nmnh.si.edu. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 4,20 Stueber, Kurt. Cyphomandra betacea (Solanaceae), flower cluster. 2003. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0), GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 5 Davidals. 6 months old tamarillo seedlings. 2004. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 6 Cillas. Cyphomandra betacea. 2008. Real Jardin Botanico de madrid. commons.wikimedia.org. Under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 7,8  B. Hans. Solanum betaceum, own collection. 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Public Domain. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 9 Carstor. Unripe fruit of Solanum betaceum (Solanaceae). 2007. Jena Botanical Garden, Germany. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 10 Tapson, Natalie. Tamarillo fruit hanging from the bush. 2010. flickr.com. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 11 Jaitt, Oscar. Tree tomato, Tamarillo. N.d. fruitlovers.com. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 12,15,16 Pfeifer, Janek. Tamarillos (Solanum betaceum). 2005. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 13 Stefano. Cyphomandra betacea (Solanum betaceum). 2012. flickr.com. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 14 Bartsch, Michelle. Tamarillo fruit, palm House (also known as tree tomatoes). 2008. flickr.com. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 17 Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea). 2011. Kew Gardens, London, England. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 18 Manners, Malcolm. Tree Tomato, Cyphomandra betacea. 2011. flickr.com. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 19,28 Kosters, Henk. Tamarillo Indonesia. 2012. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 21 Carstor. Habit of Solanum betaceum (Solanaceae). 2007. Jena Botanical Garden, Germany. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 22 Brank Ljuba. Tree tomatoes - a typical crop in the Andes in Ecuador. N.d. Useful Tropical Plants. tropical.theferns.info. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 23 Su-Lin. Our First Tamarillo. 2008. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 24 Laugher, Brianna. Tamarillo and persimmon flan. 2011. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-SA 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 25 Clunie, Moira. Love sorbet, New Zeland. 2009.  flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
Fig. 26 Tamarillo - Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendt. edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 27 Ekem. Tree tomatoes, Ecuador. 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 29 Smith, M. Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Miers. 1899. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 125 [ser. 3, vol. 55]: t. 7682. Illustration contributed by: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, U.S.A. plantillustrations.org. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 20 Apr. 2015 LR. Last update 13 Feb. 2017 LR
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