Red Tamarillo

Red Tamarillo

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Cyphomandra betacea
Red Tamarillo (tree tomato)

A small evergreen tree, growing to approx. 2-5m, producing red egg-shaped fruit that are high in vitamin C and can be harvested in just 3-4 years from sowing.  Flowering begins about 6-8 months after planting. 

Cyphomandra betacea is native to forests of the Andes of Peru and Argentina. It has been introduced in subtropical areas throughout the world, including South Africa, India, Hong Kong, China, United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Unripe fruits are green and are ready to harvest when they develop the red colour characteristic of this particular variety. To harvest, simply pull the fruit from the tree with a snapping motion, leaving the stem intact.

The tree tomato requires fertile, light soil that is rich in organic matter. Perfect drainage is also necessary.  It will not tolerate waterlogging or drought and the roots are very shallow, so it needs to be well mulched.  Common niches for tamarillo are open areas in monoculture and under banana plantations. 

Its fruits are excellent sources of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin E. Tamarillo also has a significant amount of minerals like iron, potassium and magnesium. The tamarillo is an excellent source of antioxidants because it contains a type of flavonoid known as anthocyanins. They can be used as a substitute for tomatoes, cut fresh in salads, served sweetened in desserts, or added to spicy sauces.

The leaves of tamarillo have been used as a dye. Unripe fruits are used in the Colombian tanning industry to de-colour hides.  C. betacea fruit is believed to combat anaemia and respiratory diseases.

Sow seeds, approx. 5mm deep, in Spring, after last frost has passed.  Germination approx. 4 - 6 weeks.  Seedlings should have their growth tip removed to encourage multiple branches, this makes the fruit easier to reach and reduces the risk of a heavily laden tree toppling over.  

10 seeds per packet