There are many different kinds of plants that grow in the world, so it may come as no surprise that some plants resemble others, including the tomato plant. They may have similarities in terms of the fruits they grow, the leaves, or other parts.
However, it is important to know how to tell the difference because you can’t eat all kinds of plants. There are weeds that grow little fruits that resemble cherry tomatoes, but you won’t want to eat them.
What Do Tomato Plants Look Like?
Tomatoes are one of the most common garden plants, but they can be challenging to identify when they don’t have fruit growing or flowers. They have leaves that are ten inches long, and the smaller leaflets are around three inches. The leaves are wavy and pointed, and they grow in groups along a common stem. The leaves also have small hairs, which are called trichomes.
The leaves have a distinct smell that will rub off onto your fingers. Tomato plants are tender perennials, and they grow in zones 10 and 11. They grow best in fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral pH. They need direct sunlight, and they do best when it is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Many varieties produce fruit that is ready to be harvested 70 to 80 days after they are placed in the ground, as the fruit takes 20 to 30 days to reach maturity.
Weeds That Look Like Tomatoes
There are several different plants that resemble tomatoes, and it is important to be able to identify them as some can be toxic.
Black nightshade is a plant that looks a lot like a cherry tomato, but it is not. This plant produces black or dark purple fruits, but they are poisonous when they are green. The leaves also look like tomato plants, but they have solanum in them, which is a toxic alkaloid. They are in the same family as tomatoes, but you can’t eat them.
You will find black nightshade growing across Texas and the eastern United States. These plants grow in thickets, in disturbed soil, and in openings near wooded areas. The main way to tell the difference is that the fruits ripen to a dark purple or black color.
Horse nettle is actually a wild type of tomato plant, but the fruits are yellow instead of red. They are not edible because they are poisonous. The rest of the plant looks very similar to the tomato plant, but there are spikes that run through the entire plant from the tips of the leaves down the stem to the soil.
Horse nettle is common throughout the midwest in pastures, fields, and waste areas. Most animals avoid eating it because of the spikes, and these spikes help you know what it is. All parts of the plant are poisonous, including the fruit, so you will want to avoid it.
Red Soda Apple
Another plant that looks like the tomato plant is the red soda apple. It is a perennial shrub that spreads similar to a tomato plant. It produces fruit that is round and red, similar to the cherry tomato, and it is difficult to tell the difference on first glance. This is a problem because the fruit on this plant is toxic. The seeds and the skin have high levels of toxins, so you need to avoid it.
Red soda apple comes from Brazil, and it grows in southern Florida. It is distinguished by its prickles on the stems, petioles, and leaves. It is one of the most similar plants to a tomato that you can find, so it is important to recognize it since it is toxic.
Another weed that looks like a tomato plant is the Jamaican nightshade. It is a perennial shrub, and it can also be found growing out in the open. The leaves are shaped like diamonds, and it has stellate hairs on them. They grow in subequal pairs.
The fruits that it produces are reddish orange, and they look like small cherry tomatoes. They are around a third of an inch in diameter. This plant is considered a wild tomato plant, but the fruit is not edible. It is found in southern Florida and is considered an invasive shrub.
The litchi tomato plant looks like a tomato plant, but it has thorns. The thorns are found on the underside of the leaves, and the stems are covered in them as well. However, if you don’t notice them, the plant looks a lot like a tomato plant.
They produce round fruits that are dark red with yellow flesh. These fruits are about the size of a cherry tomato, and they have husks inside, similar to ground cherries. The seeds are also similar to cherry tomato seeds. You can eat this fruit, and when it is ripe, it is easy to pluck from the stems. They are native to South Africa and Brazil, and they are found in the southern United States.
The plants that look like tomatoes often have fruits that are toxic and dangerous to eat. It is important to know how to identify them so that you don’t eat one. They often have thorns and other signs, and the fruit can be a different color. If you have these weeds growing in your yard, you may want to remove them.