Ecuadorean Orange Tamarillo, Adelaide Hills
Ecuadorean Orange Tamarillo, Adelaide Hills

The Tamarillo [Solanum betaceum (syn. Cyphomandra betacea)] is another cultigen [it is not known in the wild] from the warm temperate Andean region. “Tamarillo” is a marketing name made up in New Zealand for a plant that was generally known as the “Tree Tomato”; “Tamarillo” seems to be catching on internationally, however, even in its native lands.

The egg-shaped fruit, which can be red, orange, or yellow, is delicious fresh, dried or cooked, and is a versatile ingredient in salads, fruit salads, chutneys, savoury pastes, mueslis, and desserts.

The Tamarillo is a short-lived small tree which can grow up to six metres in height. Tamarillos grown from seed are commonly cut off at about one metre high to encourage branching. Tamarillos grown from cuttings tend to form bushes and can be used as an understory to their taller seed-grown brethren. Because Tamarillos are shallow-rooted, they respond well to heavy mulching and frequent light watering rather than infrequent heavy soaking.

Tamarillos are commonly pruned, quite heavily, in order to keep the brittle fruit-bearing wood close to the trunk. If a number of plants are grown, pruning some in Spring and some in Autumn will assist in maintaining a year-round supply of fruit. As Tamarillos are readily propagated from soft-tip cuttings, the prunings need not be wasted.

A well-drained soil high in organic matter and fertilized as for tomatoes should suit Tamarillos quite well. Some protection from frost, wind, and our hot midday sun is advisable. Tying-down, or otherwise supporting the brittle branches might be advisable.

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