The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

P&PDL Picture of the Week for
August 10, 2009

Potato Fruits Are Toxic, Despite Looking Like Green Cherry Tomatoes

Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Dept of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture

Many Indiana gardeners are experiencing a new phenomenon in their potato patch. At least, it's new to them. Potato plants may be producing little green fruit, about the size of a large cherry tomato.  These round, green berries are actually the fruits of the potato plant. It's not surprising that they look like tomatoes, since both plants are in the nightshade family.

Most gardeners rarely see this fruit form on potatoes in Indiana. Cool temperatures during long days tend to promote fruiting in potatoes, which explains the increase in potato fruit this year.  Also, some cultivars seem more prone to fruit formation than others. So some potatoes may be fruiting while others growing nearby may not.

Potato fruits are high in solanine, a substance that is toxic to humans, particularly children. Potato fruits should not be eaten raw or cooked, no matter how much they look like tomatoes!

Click image to enlarge

Potato Fruit

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service