In 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.