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Response to Cracklin Charlie (Reply #44)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 08:49 AM

45. Howdy! There is probably no way of knowing for sure...

The "black" tomato craze - first Cherokee Purple and Black Krim and Price's Purple in 1991, followed by a whole slew from the former USSR - including Black from Tula, Southern Night, Black Sea Man - later Black Prince and Paul Robeson - most recently Carbon and Black Cherry, unstable discoveries like Black Brandywine, mystery varieties like Vorlon, who knows where they came from types like the small round brown Bruno Rosso/Kumado, newly created ones like Pale Perfect Purple - came as the interest in seed saving exploded (aided by ebay, which brought lots of smaller seed sellers)...

Even though tomatoes typically pollinate themselves, bees do visit the flowers, so crosses can occur. Relatively inexperienced/new seed savers - or just the odds of so many people saving them - mean that we are seeing lots of accidental crosses, which lead to new, unstable varieties.

As an example, I grew some Arkansas Traveler plants from seed sent to me by a friend - he saved it. I got a mix of regular looking and dwarf plants - I grew out one of the typical tall ones, and my seedling customers of course did as well. We are experiencing a mix of results - round pink (expected), round purple, short pink - clearly we are seeing segregation due to an earlier accidental cross.

All of this means that the smaller round purple is probably not an heirloom or available commercial variety, but the result of a cross between Cherokee Purple and ??? - he may have gotten lucky with the one you bought and will have trouble recreating it on a large scale (well, until someone does some stability work on it for a few years) - or he may have gotten lucky and grown a mutation for round smaller fruit that will be stable.

Best thing to do - save some seed from one of the tomatoes and grow it out (if you want to send me some, I will try it next year and see what I get).

When I go to Farmers Markets I see all sorts of errors - signs saying tomato is variety X, but it is clearly not. It's OK since even if a cross or mix up or mistake it will be very good to eat - but for historical accuracy/tracking purposes, the whole heirloom/story/variety thing has become quite a tangled web...which I really enjoy sorting out!

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LineLineLineLineNew Reply Howdy! There is probably no way of knowing for sure...
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