Fruit (tamarillo) by Janek Pfeifer from Wikipedia

Inside of fruit by Janek Pfeifer from Wikipedia

Tree tomato from Kew Bulletin (1887), p. 3.

Anthers of Cyphomandra.  From Engler & Prantl's Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien IV 3b fig. 12 (1897).

Herbarium specimen, Coveny 12808 (AD) from near Urbenville, NSW.

Inflorescence on herbarium specimen, Coveny 12808 (AD) from near Urbenville, NSW.


Solanum betaceum Cav. Icon. 6: 15, t. 524 (1800)

T: Spain, cultivated in Madrid 1798–1799, Cavanilles s.n.; lecto: MA308535 fide Bohs (1994).

Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendtner, Flora 28: 172; t. 4, figs 1–6 (1845).


Small malodorous tree, pubescent with simple glandular hairs.

Leaves ovate, cordate at base with the lobes overlapping; lamina of the lower and juvenile ones to 35 cm long, 30 cm wide, others commonly c. 15 cm long, 12 cm wide, entire; petiole 5–15 cm long.  

Inflorescence pendulous, cyme-like; pedicels 10–20 mm long. Calyx c. 5 mm long, the lobes broad, rounded. Corolla c. 20 mm diam., pink, fleshy, scented. Filaments c. 2 mm long; anthers 4–5 mm long, the connective broad and thick. Ovary bluntly conical; style 5–6 mm long, stout.  

Berry ovoid, 5–7 cm long, dark red, dull. Seeds disc-shaped, 3.5–4 mm diam. with wing 0.25 mm wide, pale reddish-brown.

Distribution and ecology

Native to South America. Infrequent escape from cultivation in subtropical areas of eastern Qld and north-eastern N.S.W., found in rainforest.

Common name

Tree Tomato, Tamarillo


Taxonomic: The genus Cyphomandra is separated from Solanum on the basis of few technical characters such as the thickening of the connective at the back of the anther. This separation from Solanum has long been questioned. Recent sequencing of DNA places Cyphomandra species clearly with Solanum.

A monograph on this group of species, as Cyphomandra, may be found in L. Bohs Cyphomandra (Solanaceae), Flora Neotropica, Monograph 63 New York Bot. Gard. (1994) 1–176 and the transfer of Cyphomandra species to Solanum in L. Bohs, Taxon, 44 (1995) 583–587.

Cultivation: Cultivated for its edible fruit in many parts of tropical America, Asia, New Zealand, the Pacific region and Australia. Garden-grown in all Australian States with commercial plantings in subtropical areas.

Cultivation of this species is discussed by J. McD. Slack, Growing tamarillos (Cyphomandra betacea), Agric. Gaz. New South Wales 86: 2–4 (1976).


Selected specimens

Qld: Bunga Mtns, S. T. Blake 19692 (BRI); near Atherton, V. K. Moriarty 1105 (CANB). N.S.W.: near Springwood, L. Johnson 8350 (NSW).

Derivation of epithet

From betacea, Latin for resemblance to a beet.

Images and information on web

An image of S. betaceum can be seen on the Eurobodalla Shire site at while an image of the fruits can be seen at the Botany Department, University of Hawaii Solanaceae site at

Another image with background information can be found on the Desert-Tropicals page at and images with cultivation notes at