A River Name Which Is Also A Flower Name Tomatoes: History, Origin, Facts… or Fiction?

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Tomatoes: History, Origin, Facts… or Fiction?

John Nix, a tomato importer, decided to challenge the law after scrutinizing the tariff law. Their case rested on the fact that tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable, and therefore should not be brought under the tariff law. Over Nix’s objections, the case went to the Supreme Court in 1893. Even though Nix had a solid case, the Supreme Court rejected the botanical facts and continued to refer to tomatoes as vegetables.

plant family

Tomatoes belong to the Lycopersicon genus, while potatoes belong to the Solanum genus; They both belong to the same “flowering plant family” Solanaceae. Similarity between leaves and flowers supports this classification.

UK – Introduction of tomato

When the tomato plant was first introduced to the UK, some areas refused to eat the fruit because it was considered poisonous. Other plants that were poisonous and in the same family as the tomato, such as henbane, mandrake, and deadly nightshade, were causes for concern.

Deadly nightshade (Atropus belladonna), especially the tomato plant, was most common and was used as a hallucinogenic drug as well as for cosmetic purposes in various parts of Europe. In Latin, the name “belladonna”; Literally means “beautiful woman.” A fashionable statement at the time was that ladies of the medieval court would apply deadly nightshade extract to their eyes, dilating their pupils.

When lethal nightshade is taken for its hallucinogenic properties, consumers may experience visual hallucinations and feelings of flight or weightlessness. German folklore suggests that it was also used to induce werewolves in witchcraft, a practice known as lycanthropy. The tomato’s common name in Germany translates to “wolf peach,” which was another reason Europeans avoided the plant.

North America – Tomato Introduction

Colonists brought tomato plants from Britain to North America. The plant was most valuable for removing pustules (pimples, blisters – pus-filled, inflamed skin). George Washington Carver, the inventor of peanut butter, urged poor neighbors in Alabama to consume tomatoes because of their unhealthy diets. However, he had little success in convincing the plants that they were edible.

Early attempts by traders to sell tomatoes were not very successful. The fruit is said to have been brought to the liberal town of Salem, Mass., in 1802 by a painter who also had difficulty persuading people to try the fruit. By 1812, tomatoes were recorded as being used in New Orleans cuisine, however, there were doubts about the fruit in some quarters.

Doubts about the plant’s edibility were dispelled when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced in front of the Boston courthouse on September 26, 1820, that he would eat a bushel of tomatoes. Thousands of spectators came to see this man. Commit suicide by eating the poisonous fruit (at least, they thought). The audience is said to be shocked to learn that the Colonel will survive after eating countless tomatoes. This story is from an old farm journal and may not be very reliable, however, it is very interesting.

Tomatoes are growing in popularity

Tomatoes began to grow in popularity throughout the Western world. By the 1820s, many cookbooks included recipes that required or called for tomatoes. In 1835, dozens of tomatoes were sold at Boston’s Quincy Market. In the Thomas Bridgman seed catalog, 4 tomato varieties were listed: cherry, pear, large yellow, and large squash.

Brewist, a seed merchant, commented on the tomato in 1858 – “Reviewing the past eighteen years, there is not a single vegetable on the catalog which has gained so much popularity in so short a period as is now under consideration. In 1828-29, it was almost abominable; in ten years nearly every variety was shot.” And the panacea was tomato extract. It now covers almost as much land as cabbage and is cultivated the length and breadth of the country.” – http://www.heirloomseeds.com

That year, Brutts had eight cultivars in his catalog. A few years later, in 1863, a popular seed catalog listed 23 varieties. One of the varieties listed was Trophy, the first modern-looking, large, red, smooth-skinned variety that sold for $5.00 for a packet of 20 seeds.

In the 1870s mass breeding for desirable traits became common in both the US and the UK. In fact, by the 1880s several hundred cultivars had been named and it was clear that the tomato had grown on Western culture. According to a study conducted at the Michigan Agricultural College in the late 1880s, only 61 truly unique varieties were represented among 171 named varieties, many of which differed only marginally.

Heirloom varieties

Although Central America is considered the center of domestication, further domestication occurred at a more intense level throughout Europe and later North America. A large number of high quality varieties were produced in Eastern Europe. Tomatoes are self-pollinating plants that become genetically homogenous after several generations. Tomatoes rarely cross breed and usually produce plants similar to parents.

Due to the natural breeding process of tomatoes, the initial varieties did not change much and were kept in the family or community for a long time, hence the name pedigree. There are varieties that are more than a hundred years old that are still produced today. Most heirloom breeds vary in color, shape and size. Some breeds are black, red with black shoulders, dark purple, iridescent and green. In terms of size, some are the size of a cherry to larger varieties weighing more than 2 pounds.

Ancestry – A story

Some heirloom varieties also have an interesting history; At least I think so. Let’s talk about the story of an heirloom called the mortgage lifter. Charlie, the owner of a radiator repair shop, fell on hard times during the Great Depression, as did much of the country. Due to economic reasons, most people abandoned their cars and Ol’ Charlie’s business took a hit. They decided to use four of the largest-fruiting tomato plants and cross-breed them repeatedly to produce a plant that produced two pounds of fruit.

Claiming that his plants could feed a family of six, Charlie sold the crops for one dollar per plant. Within four years, Charlie had generated enough money to pay off the $4,000 mortgage on his home, earning him the legendary name “Mortgage Lifter”.

Ancestry – Names and Origin

In general, heirloom breed names link directly to their history. For example, the Baptiste family in Reims, Fanes, cultivated the First Pick variety. History of Picardy also belongs to France (1890). Besser came from the Freiburg region of Germany, while Schellenberg’s favorite came from the Schellenberg family near Mannheim, Germany.

Elbe was planted in 1889 near the Elbe River in Germany. Beginning in the 1870s, the Amish paste variety was cultivated by the Amish in Pennsylvania. Brandywine was also planted by Amish farmers near Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1885. The hills of Virginia are believed to be the origin of the Hillbilly breed. Old Virginia was planted in Virginia in the early 1900s. In 1953 the Campbell Soup Company introduced a variety of S that is still popular for canning. On Edgar Allan Poe’s estate, a species that grows there is his mother’s maiden name, Hopkins.

Please note that these genealogical stories may be true or false, in part or in whole, and inaccurate or exaggerated.

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