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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Soft-wooded small tree up to c. 3 m, cultivated in gardens for its edible fruit and occasionally escaping in the E Highlands. Leaves large, ovate, up to 30 cm long, cordate at the base, Flowers in branched inflorescences, pale pinkish; corolla lobes long and narrow, with a waxy texture. Fruit pendent, ovoid, dark red, tomato-like.
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Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Derivation of specific name

betaceum: of the beet, beet-like
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats & Eastern Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Peru, Brazil"
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Distribution

Apparently native to southern Bolivia and adjacent northwestern Argentina; cultivated throughout the Andes in subtropical climates, 1000-3000 m in elevation; introduced into Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies; in cultivation in Spain, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, the Canary Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Sumatra, Java, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

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Range Description

The native range of the tamarillo tree is not resolved. It is often thought extinct. Putative wild subpopulations are small, occurring in restricted areas in Argentina and Bolivia. It is widely cultivated in the Andes, Europe, Africa and New Zealand. Wild representatives are important for the genetic improvement and understanding of cultivated forms.
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Worldwide distribution

S America
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"Kerala: Idukki Tamil Nadu: Dindigul, Nilgiri, Salem"
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Formal Description

Habit

Small tree 2-7 m tall. Stems densely puberulent with unbranched glandular and eglandular hairs.

Sympodial Structure

Sympodial units (3-) 4-foliate.

Leaves

Leaves simple, the blades 7-40 x 6-35 cm, ca. 1-1.5 times as long as wide, chartaceous, ovate, moderately puberulent adaxially with unbranched hairs, more densely so on veins, densely puberulent abaxially; base cordate to auriculate with basal lobes 1.5-6 cm; margin entire; apex acuminate; petioles 3-25 cm, densely puberulent.

Inflorescences

Inflorescences 2.5-15 cm, (unbranched or) branched, with 10-50 flowers, all flowers perfect, the axes moderately to densely puberulent; peduncle 1.5-9 cm; rachis 2-8 cm; pedicels 10-20 mm, 15-50 mm in fruit, spaced 3-10 mm apart, articulated above the base, leaving pedicellar remnants 1-3 mm long.

Flowers

Buds ellipsoidal to ovoid, obtuse to acuminate at apex. Flowers with the calyx radius 3-5 mm, the lobes 1-2 x 2-3 mm, deltate, obtuse to truncate, apiculate at tips, fleshy, sparsely to densely puberulent. Corollas 2-2.5 cm in diameter, the radius 10-15 mm, stellate, subcoriaceous to fleshy, pinkish white, the tube 2-3 mm, the lobes 7-12 x 2.5-4 mm at base, narrowly triangular, acute at apices, glabrous abaxially and adaxially, the margin tomentose. Anther thecae 5-6 x 2-2.5 mm, lanceolate, connivent, pale yellow, the pores directed adaxially and distally; connective 4.5-5 x 1-2 mm, narrowly triangular, abaxially slightly shorter than thecae at apex, equal to or slightly shorter than them at base, absent adaxially, bright lemon-yellow. Ovary glabrous; style 5-6 x 0.5-1 mm., exserted 1-2.5 mm beyond stamens, cylindrical, glabrous; stigma truncate.

Fruits

Fruits 4-10 x 3-5 cm, ellipsoidal or ovoid, obtuse or acute at apex, yellow to orange, red, or purple, often with darker longitudinal stripes, glabrous; stone cell aggregates present.

Seeds

Seeds 3-4 x 3.5-4 mm, flattened, densely pubescent.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Population Biology

Frequency

A local escape in the E Highlands
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.

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Evolution and Systematics

Systematics or Phylogenetics

Phylogeny

Solanum betaceum belongs to the Cyphomandra clade of Solanum along with other species traditionally recognized in sections Pachyphylla and Cyphomandropsis (Bohs, in press a). Within the Cyphomandra clade, S. betaceum belongs to a well-supported clade that also includes S. maternum, S. roseum, and S. unilobum (Bohs, in press b). Wild and cultivated accessions of S. betaceum have nearly identical ITS sequences.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Solanum betaceum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Solanum betaceum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Molecular Data

chloroplast ndhF sequence: GenBank U47428 (voucher: Bohs 2468, UT). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/viewer.fcgi?db=nucleotide&val=1572915 nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523872 (cult. New Zealand; no voucher). Sequence not yet released (7/04). nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523873 (voucher: Bohs 1599, GH). Sequence not yet released (7/04). nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523874 (voucher: Bohs 2274, GH). Sequence not yet released (7/04). nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523876 (cult. Peru; no voucher). Sequence not yet released (7/04). nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523871 (voucher: Bohs 2837, UT). Sequence not yet released (7/04). nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AF244713 (voucher: Bohs 2468, UT). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/viewer.fcgi?db=nucleotide&val=7533133 nuclear ITS sequence: GenBank AY523875 (voucher: Bohs 2946, UT).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
DD
Data Deficient

Red List Criteria

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1998
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Common Names and Uses

Local names. Solanum betaceum is most commonly called “tomate de árbol” (Spanish), “tomate de árvore” (Portuguese), and “tree tomato” (English). In New Zealand, the fruits are called “tamarillos” and they are imported to the United States and other countries under this name. Bolivia: chilto (Bohs et al. 2837). Argentina: chilto (Guglianone et al. 2698), tomate del monte (Lorentz & Hieronymus 251, Pierotti 1087), tomatillo (Marmol et al. 8856). Bohs (1989) has a more complete list of vernacular names of this species. Uses. The fruits are very popular in Latin America, where they are eaten raw and cooked in various dishes. The leaves are used medicinally as a poultice against sore throat in Ecuador (Filskov et al. 37010). For more information on the uses of this species, see Bohs (1989).

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Wikipedia

Tamarillo

This article is about the fruit. For other uses, see Tamarillo (disambiguation).

Solanum betaceum is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae (the nightshade family). It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit.[2] It is also known as the tree tomato,[3] or tamamoro.

Description[edit]

Plant origin and regions of cultivation[edit]

The tamarillo is native to the Andes of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Today, it is still cultivated in gardens and small orchards for local production,[4] and it is one of the most popular fruits in these regions.[5] Other regions of cultivation are the subtropical areas throughout the world, such as Rwanda, South Africa, India, Hong Kong, China, United States, Australia, and New Zealand.[4]

The first internationally marketed crop of tamarillos in Australia was produced around 1996, although permaculture and exotic fruit enthusiasts had increasingly grown the fruit around the country from the mid-1970s on.

In New Zealand, about 2,000 tons are produced on 200 hectares of land and exported to the United States, Japan[6] and Europe. For the export, the existing marketing channels developed for the kiwifruit are used.[4]

The tamarillo is also successfully grown at higher elevations of Malaysia and the Philippines, and in Puerto Rico.[5] In the hot tropical lowlands, it develops only small fruits and fruit setting is seldom.

Prior to 1967, the tamarillo was known as the "tree tomato" in New Zealand, but a new name was chosen by the New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotions Council in order to distinguish it from the ordinary garden tomato and increase its exotic appeal.[2] The choice is variously explained by similarity to the word "tomato", the Spanish word "amarillo", meaning yellow,[7] and a variation on the Maori word "tama", for "leadership".[citation needed]

Plant[edit]

Flower cluster

The plant is a fast-growing tree that grows up to 5 meters. Peak production is reached after 4 years,[6] and the life expectancy is about 12 years.[4] The tree usually forms a single upright trunk with lateral branches. The flowers and fruits hang from the lateral branches. The leaves are large, simple and perennial, and have a strong pungent smell.[6] The flowers are pink-white, and form clusters of 10 to 50 flowers. They produce 1 to 6 fruits per cluster. Plants can set fruit without cross-pollination, but the flowers are fragrant and attract insects. Cross-pollination seems to improve fruit set.[6] The roots are shallow and not very pronounced, therefore the plant is not tolerant to drought stress, and can be damaged by strong winds. Tamarillos will hybridize with many other solanaceae, though the hybrid fruits will be sterile, and unpalatable in some instances.

Fruit[edit]

Unripe fruits
Ripe fruits

The fruits are egg shaped and about 4-10 centimeters long. Their color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. Sometimes they have dark, longitudinal stripes. Red fruits are more acetous, yellow and orange fruits are sweeter. The flesh has a firm texture and contains more and larger seeds than a common tomato.[4] The fruits are very high in vitamins and iron and low in calories (only about 40 calories per fruit).[6]

Fruit composition, some important components[4]
Component [g/100g]RangeComponent [mg/100g]Range
Water content81–87Vitamin A0.32–1.48
Proteins1.5–2.5Vitamin C19.7–57.8
Fat0.05–1.28Calcium3.9–11.3
Fiber1.4–6.0Magnesium19.7–22.3
Total acidity1.0–2.4Iron0.4–0.94

Cultivation[edit]

Soil and climate requirements[edit]

The tamarillo prefers subtropical climate, with rainfall between 600 and 4000 millimeters and annual temperatures between 15 and 20 °C.[4] It is intolerant to frost (below -2 °C) and drought stress. It is assumed that fruit set is affected by night temperatures. Areas where citrus are cultivated provide good conditions for tamarillos as well, such as in the Mediterranean climate. Tamarillo plants grow best in light, deep, fertile soils, although they are not very demanding. However, soils must be permeable since the plants are not tolerant to water-logging.[4] They grow naturally on soils with a pH of 5 to 8.5.

Growth[edit]

Propagation is possible by both using seeds or cuttings.[4][8] Seedlings first develop a straight, about 1.5 to 1.8 meters tall trunk, before they branch out. Propagation by seeds is easy and ideal in protected environments. However, in orchards with different cultivars, cross-pollination will occur and characteristics of the cultivars get mixed up. Seedlings should be kept in the nursery until they reach a height of 1 to 1.5 meters, as they are very frost-sensitive.

Plants grown from cuttings branch out earlier and result in more shrub-like plants that are more suitable for exposed sites. Cuttings should be made from basal and aerial shoots, and should be free of pathogenic viruses. Plants grown from cuttings should be kept in the nursery until they reach a height of 0.5 to 1 meter.

The tree grows very quickly and is able to carry fruits after 1.5 to 2 years.[5] The plant is daylength-insensitive. The fruits do not mature simultaneously, unless the tree has been pruned. A single tree can produce more than 20 kg fruits per year, an orchard yields in 15 to 17 tons per hectare.[6] One single mature tree in good soil will bear more fruit than a normal family can eat in about 3 months.

Tamarillos are suitable for growing as indoor container plants, though their swift growth, their light, water and humidity requirements and their large leaves can pose a challenge to those with limited space.

Plant management[edit]

Tamarillo tree

The tamarillo trees are adaptable and very easy to grow. However, some plant management strategies can help to stabilize and improve plant performance.

Planting[edit]

Planting distances depend on the growing system. In New Zealand, with mechanized production, single row planting distances of 1 to 1.5 meters between plants and 4.5 to 5 meters between rows are recommended. In traditional growing regions such as the Andean region, plantations are much more dense, with 1.2 to 1.5 meters between plants. Dense planting can be a strategy to protect plants against wind.[4] On poorly drained soils, plants should be planted on ridges.

Pruning[edit]

Pruning can help to control fruit size, plant size, harvest date and to simplify the harvest of fruits.[4] Cutting the tip of young plants leads to the desired branch height. Once the tree shape has been formed, pruning is reduced to the removal of old or dead wood and previously fruited branches, since branches that have already carried fruits will produce smaller fruits with lower quality the next time. Light pruning leads to medium sized, heavy pruning to large sized fruits. Basal shoots should be removed. When plants are grown in greenhouses, pruning prevents excessive vegetative growth.

When the tree is about 1 to 1.5 metres in height, it is advisable to cut the roots on one side and lean the tree to the other (in the direction of the midday sun at about 30 to 45 degrees). This allows fruiting branches to grow all along the trunk rather than just at the top.

Tamarillo seedlings, 6 months old

Mulching[edit]

Since the plants are sensitive to drought stress, mulching can help to preserve moisture in the soil.[6] It can also be a strategy to suppress weeds, as other soil management techniques such as plowing is not possible due to the shallow and sensitive root system.

Shelter[edit]

The plants have to be protected from wind. Their shallow root system does not provide enough stability, and the lateral branches are fragile and break easily when carrying fruits.[4]

Irrigation and fertilisation[edit]

To maximize and stabilize production, water and nutrient inputs should be provided when needed. The plants need continuous supply of water due to their shallow root system. Drought stress results in a decrease of plant growth, fruit size and productivity.[4] Recommended fertilizer rates per hectare are 170 kg of Nitrogen, 45 kg of Phosphorus and 130 to 190 kg of Potassium for intensive New Zealand production systems. Phosphorus and Potassium are applied in the beginning of the season, Nitrogen applications are distributed throughout the year.[4]

Pest management[edit]

The tamarillo tree is, compared to similar crops such as tomatoes, quite resistant to pests in general. Still, to reduce risk in intensive production systems, some pests have to be controlled to avoid major crop damage. To control pests, the same control methods as for other solanaceae can be used.

pestsFurther InformationExamples
Viruses
  • Most significant diseases at many production sites
  • Reduce tree's vigour and yield
  • Leave scabs on fruits and therefore lower fruit quality
Tamarillo mosaic virus (TaMV)
Nematodes
  • Only few nematodes have been found
  • Serious damage on young trees
  • Can be vectors of viruses
Meloidogyne incognita, M. javanica and M. hapla
Insects
  • Can be vectors of viruses
  • Feed on the fruits and other parts of the plant
Aphids, Greenhouse whitefly, Tomato worm
Fungi
  • Leaf loss (defoliation)
Powdery mildew

Harvest[edit]

Ripening of fruits is not simultaneous. Several harvests are necessary.[9] In climates with little annual variation, tamarillo trees can flower and set fruit throughout the year. In climates with pronounced seasons (such as New Zealand), fruits ripen in autumn. Premature harvest and ethylene induced ripening in controlled-atmosphere chambers is possible with minimal loss of fruit quality.[10] The fragile lateral branches can break easily when loaded with fruits, so premature harvest helps to reduce this risk and allows storage of fruits up to 20 days at room temperature. A cold water dipping process, developed by the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research also allows further storage of 6–10 weeks.[4]

Usage[edit]

Culinary use[edit]

The fruit is eaten by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit. When lightly sugared and cooled, the flesh is used for a breakfast dish. Some people in New Zealand cut the fruit in half, scoop out the pulpy flesh and spread it on toast at breakfast. Yellow-fruited cultivars have a sweeter flavor, occasionally compared to mango or apricot. The red-fruited variety, which is much more widely cultivated, is more tart, and the savory aftertaste is far more pronounced. In the Northern Hemisphere, tamarillos are most frequently available from July until November, and fruits early in the season tend to be sweeter and less astringent.

They can be made into compotes, or added to stews (e.g. Boeuf Bourguignon), hollandaise, chutneys and curries. Desserts using this fruit include bavarois and, combined with apples, a strudel.

Tamarillos can be added as a secondary fermentation flavouring to Kombucha Tea for a tart and tangy taste. The fruit should be mashed and added at a ratio of 3 Tamarillos to 1 Litre of Kombucha, however great care should be taken to not allow too much carbon dioxide gas to build up in sealed bottles during secondary fermentation. The sugar content of fresh Tamarillos added to Kombucha can generate a rapid carbon dioxide production in secondary fermentation within just 48-72 hours.

In Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and parts of Indonesia (including Sumatra and Sulawesi), fresh tamarillos are frequently blended together with water and sugar to make a juice. It is also available as a commercially pasteurized purée. In Nepal it is grown in the hill parts/mountains. It is yellow in colour and used as Pickle or chutney and used as Tomato for Curry. It is known in Nepal As ram bheda, rukh (tree) bheda,or tree tomato. It also called tamatar in Kathmandu and suburb.

In Ecuador, the tamarillo, known as tomate de árbol, is blended with chili peppers to make a hot sauce commonly consumed with local dishes of the Andean region.

The flesh of the tamarillo is tangy and variably sweet, with a bold and complex flavor, and may be compared to kiwifruit, tomato, guava, or passion fruit. The skin and the flesh near it have a bitter taste and are not usually eaten raw.[11]

The tamarillo has been described as having a taste similar to that of a passion fruit and a piquant tomato combined.[citation needed]

The red and purple types of fruits are preferred in import countries of Europe: Even though they taste more acidic, their color is favoured by consumers.[4]

Industrial use[edit]

The fruits are high in pectin and therefore have good properties for preserves. However, they oxidize and lose color when not treated. Yellow fruit types are better applicable for industrial use.

Prospects[edit]

Research and breeding should improve plantation management, fruit quality and postharvest treatment.[6] A better understanding of plant physiology, nutritional requirements of plants and fruit set mechanisms will help to improve growing systems. Breeding goals are to break seed dormancy, to improve sweetness of fruits and to increase yield. For industrial uses, little "stones" of sodium and calcium that occasionally appear in the fruit skin form a problem. Those stones have to be eliminated by breeding.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b www.tamarillo.com
  3. ^ "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Prohens, Jaime; Nuez, Fernando (2001). "The Tamarillo (Cyphomandra betacea): A Review of a Promising Small Fruit Crop". Small Fruits Review 1 (2): 43–68. doi:10.1300/J301v01n02_06. 
  5. ^ a b c Hume, E. P.; Winters, H. F. (1949). "The "Palo de Tomate" or Tree Tomato". Economic Botany 3 (3): 140–142. doi:10.1007/BF02859515. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h National Research Council (1989). Lost Crops of the Incas. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press. pp. 307–316. ISBN 978-0-309-07461-2. 
  7. ^ Tamarillo cooking tips - Ingredients - Taste.com.au
  8. ^ "Becoming a Grower | Tamarillo Growers Association". Tamarillo.com. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  9. ^ "Tree Tomato". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  10. ^ Prohens, J.; Ruiz, J.J.; Nuez, F. (1996). "Advancing the Tamarillo Harvest by Induced Postharvest Ripening". HortScience 31 (1): 109–111. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
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References and More Information

Commentary

Solanum betaceum is most closely related to S. maternum; both species have deeply cordate and pubescent leaf blades, pinkish subcoriaceous stellate corollas, cylindrical styles and unexpanded stigmas, and large ellipsoidal juicy fruits that are edible at maturity. Solanum betaceum differs from S. maternum (and the other species in the S. betaceum clade) in its orange or reddish fruits and self-compatible breeding system.

The natural range and place of origin of S. betaceum was unknown until recently. This species is grown worldwide in subtropical areas and herbarium specimens exist from nearly all countries in the Western Hemisphere. Many accounts describe S. betaceum as being known only from cultivation. However, several botanists (Brücher, 1968, 1977; J. Solomon, pers. comm.; E. Zardini, pers. comm.) reported wild populations of S. betaceum from southern Bolivia and adjacent areas of northwestern Argentina in the floristic province known as the “bosque Tucumano-Boliviano” (Cabrera, 1976). Herbarium specimens from these areas show no morphological differences from those of other regions of Latin America and the Old World.

Recent botanical expeditions to southern Bolivia and northwestern Argentina in 1998-2000 confirmed the existence of wild populations of S. betaceum in this region. Wild plants were morphologically indistinguishable from cultivated individuals and wild plants also had a self-compatible breeding system. There is virtually no doubt that these are truly wild individuals, not feral plants established from cultivated tree tomatoes. The plants are common in undisturbed forest and occupy an extensive range from Dept. Tarija, Bolivia to Provs. Salta and Jujuy in Argentina. ITS sequences from wild individuals were identical or nearly so to those of cultivated tree tomatoes from New Zealand and other parts of Latin America.

It is unknown how and when S. betaceum spread from southern Bolivia and northwestern Argentina to northwestern South America where it is most commonly cultivated today. The lack of morphological and molecular divergence between wild and cultivated S. betaceum accessions argues for a relatively recent, possibly post-Conquest, introduction into northwestern South America. Routes of commerce from colonial towns such as Salta and Jujuy in Argentina and Tarija in Bolivia may have extended through Potosí, Bolivia and thence to Lima, Peru and sites father north. Alternatively, the Incas may have spread this fruit crop throughout their empire, which extended in pre-Conquest times from Colombia to Argentina.

Although S. betaceum is widely grown on a local scale in Latin America, New Zealand is the only country to commercially market and export this species. The New Zealanders changed the name to “tamarillo” to avoid confusion with the tomato, S. lycopersicum. They have also instituted breeding and improvement programs for this species using germplasm from variants of S. betaceum as well as other species in the S. betaceum clade. Greenhouse crossing trials among accessions of S. betaceum, S. maternum, S. roseum, and S. unilobum showed that fertile hybrids can be formed in at least some crossing combinations of S. betaceum with the other species (Bohs, 1991; Bohs & Nelson, 1997). Thus, it seems possible to introduce desirable genes into S. betaceum using conventional plant breeding methods. However, there has not been wholesale acceptance of S. betaceum fruits outside New Zealand, and even in New Zealand tamarillo cultivation appears to be on the decline. Nonetheless, additional wild populations of S. betaceum should be located in South America and both in situ and ex situ germplasm preservation of this species should be a priority.

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