Common and Rare Types of Tomato Foliage

| 6/1/2016 10:17:00 AM

Tags: heirloom gardening, heirloom vegetables, vegetable varieties, tomatoes, garden planning, Craig LaHoullier, North Carolina,

The more tomato varieties you grow – especially if you delve into the wonderful world of heirlooms – the more you realize that not all tomato plants look alike. Look closely at the leaves and you will find lots of variations; once you become familiar with a particularly favorite variety, you may even be able to distinguish it early on just by its leaves. Of course, that may also indicate that you are so deep into the obsession that you need help (hand raised!).

The vast majority of tomato varieties have leaves that have teeth – serrations – on the edges, which is referred to as “regular leaf” foliage. This is the dominant trait. It doesn’t infer any particular quality or health factor. It just is what the genes in the variety dictate. Some commonly grown varieties with regular leaf foliage are Sun Gold, German Johnson, Roma, Big Beef and Kellogg’s Breakfast.

Here are two tomatoes with regular leaf foliage.

Regular leaf foliage

A small percentage of tomatoes are produced on plants whose leaves are smooth at the edge. Because of the strong similarity to potato plant foliage, these varieties are called “potato leaf” – a recessive trait.

Perhaps 5 percent of heirloom tomatoes or less carry this gene, but it makes for a strikingly beautiful tomato plant. Some very popular, wonderful heirlooms have this foliage type. Among them are 'Brandywine', 'Green Giant', 'Lucky Cross' and 'Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom'.

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