Hairy Beast

Person Author: Lajos Szabo Calender June 28, 2012 Posted Tags: , Comment 1 Comment

Have you ever wondered why tomato plants are hairy? There must be a use for all those hairs right?! Yes there is, more than one and more than you all think. The tomato hairs are called glandular trichomes, yes sorry if it is a bit too scientific but it is very interesting, for me at least. Lycopersicum esculentum is the scientific name of the tomato. Wild tomato or I should rather say Lycopersicum species are more hairy, and the glandular trichomes extract some very useful molecules called glucose esters. Just to make things more complicated there are different type of glandular trichomes and they don’t extract the same molecules in the same concentrate.

Cultivated tomato varieties have been intensively selected for productivity, shelf life of fruit, and therefore the genetic diversity has been seriously depleted. Cultivated Lycepersicum varieties don’t have as many hairs as wild ones and don’t produce as much useful chemicals either. Okay so where I am going with this is that those molecules deter aphids and spider mites; and somewhat responsible for that strong tomato smell. Some research shows that wild species can deter and be resistance of as many as 30 different pests and diseases.

Have you noticed that hybrid varieties have less hair and smell less? (I love that strong tomato smell!) The picture above is an heirloom Black Russian tomato plant and I have to say it is very hairy!

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One Response to “Hairy Beast”

  • Elaine:

    I agree, am growing them myself. they don’t seem to suffer aphids or from drought like many of the other varieties.

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