Potato Potahto Tomato Tomahto: Potato Leaf Tomatoes

Potato Leaf TomatoIn the wondrous world of tomato plants, you will hear all sorts of terms bandied about. Determinate, indeterminate, heirloom, hybrid, paste and beefsteak. I could go on all day with the tomato terms, because I am just that much of a garden geek. But today I want to focus the term potato leaf tomato.

Besides being a fun little tongue twister (go ahead, try to say it 5 times fast. I dare you), the term potato leaf tomato refers to a particular type of tomato.

Most of the time, when you grow a tomato plant, the leaves are multi lobed, like little alien hands with lots of bumpy fingers. Potato leaf tomatoes do not have these multi-lobes. Instead, they have smooth edged leaves that may have one or two lobes, like the state of Michigan.

Other than that, there is not much difference between a regular leaf tomato and a potato leaf tomato. So, if this is the case, why do potato leaf tomatoes exist n the first place? And why the heck do we call them potato leaf?

We call them potato leaf because… drumroll… they look like the leaves of a potato plant. The gardener’s ability to name things imaginatively comes into play again. What is even more mind boggling is the fact that there is actually a good reason why this happens in some breeds of tomatoes. It is because potatoes and tomatoes are related to each other. And it is not even by marriage.

Both tomatoes and potatoes are from the nightshade family (yes the deadly kind). They are kissing cousins and like some members of some families share the same look, so it happens here.

Potato leaf tomatoes are mostly heirloom varieties. Chances are, you will not see these types of tomatoes at you local nursery or garden center (and if they do, you shop at that place until they have to pry your cold dead fingers off the plants).

Potato leaf tomatoes also do not serve any use in telling what the end taste of the tomato grown on the plant might be. Though you know that a yellow tomato is most likely a low acid and a cherry is most likely sweet, being potato leafed is not an indicator for anything.

In the long run, potato leaf tomatoes are nothing more than an interesting visual anomaly on the way to the edible end result.

4 thoughts on “Potato Potahto Tomato Tomahto: Potato Leaf Tomatoes
  1. Susan on

    On regular leaf tomatoes, we take off the side shoots/suckers. This is the first year I have planted potato leaf (Stupice) and am not familiar with the growth pattern. Should we be taking out the side shoots on the potato leaf tomatoes?


  2. JGardenhead on

    Thank you for this very helpful posting about potato leaf tomato plants!
    I started some Brandywine and Matina tomato plants from seed this year and was beginning to think the seed company had put the wrong seeds in those packets! I’m relieved that I will not wind up with a bunch of eggplants or something else I didn’t mean to plant.:)


    Bob Bobo Reply:

    I have one potato-leaf tomato planted between a Roma and a Cherry. It is only the potato leaf tomato that has blossom drop. By all indications, I guess it has a nitrogen deficiency.


  3. The person who commented that there is not any difference in the taste must be lacking in taste buds.
    I grew nothing but potato leaf tomatos for years and almost all of the varieties I planted were low in acid and veryBIG in taste.
    My stepdad had a potato plant with a tomato grafted on top.I saved some seeds from the tomatoes it produced,I planted the some of the seeds and Lo and behold they germinated I called them Pomaotoes and grew them for many years.beautiful fruit with hardly any blemishes..
    So if your system cannot stand the acidy tomatoes you might try the potato leaf variety.
    Bye now


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