What's toxic in the Nightshade family?

I stumbled upon a video claiming that Solanum pennellii is poisonous. I didn’t take much notice at first because the video is marketing for GM food. But later I thought I’d check it out. Nothing convincing but a number of web sites make this claim. Are they all just copying each other?
If it’s true, what level of poison? Just mild (a little nauseous), or moderate (definitely feeling unwell), or downright dangerous (lethal)?
I guess I’d still use it in breeding but it would be nice to know.

Given the unpleasant flavour I found in Solanum habrochaites I’m guessing it is mildly poisonous. I am using this one in breeding and will simply dilute it with multiple backcrosses to the good old domestic tomato to eliminate off flavours and (hopefully) the poisons.

Isn’t Solanum pennellii part of the Lycopersicum Subgenus & Section? My bet is, It’s probably edible if it’s able to cross with Tomatos. Yea coming form a Foraging Perspective, lots of Websites repeat the same lie again and again, it’s way too common in the Foraging & Gardening World. I don’t think Tomatos behave like Squashes (Which were a Poisonous Plant by Default until a Mutation Happend to turn off the toxic Gene).

I haven’t found any PFAF pages about Solanum habrochaites to Confirm. But here’s the Question, are you Harvesting the Fruit when Fully ripe? Tomatos are toxic when green (Unless you know how to cook them).
I’ve never heard of Ripe Tomato’s being Poisonous when Fully Ripe and I would assume the same applies to wild relatives. Otherwise why would they be Crossable in the first place?
As a general rule of Thumb, Unripe Black Nightshade Fruits are Toxic, another solanum from a different Subgenus (Why Tomato & Black Nightshade Can’t Cross). However the thing that spooks me is Potato & Tomato belong to the same subgenus, just different sections. I still haven’t heard of Tomato & Potato Crossing but they are Graft Compatible!

Check out the Wikipedia page on it, some useful info

Agreed. I’ve seen the same infirmation, copied word for word, across several sites. It’s a common practice.

As far as I can tell, yes, the fruits were ripe. They remain green but the hue changes a little and they soften. Nasty flavours, at least to my palate.

As I said, I’ll use backcrossing to eliminate the off flavours.

Solanum pennellii and solanum habrochaites fruits taste unpleasant (poisonous) to me, even when fully ripe. Some crosses with domestic tomatoes taste fine if fully ripe.

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Toxins in green tomatoes don’t break down with cooking. They are just so mildly poisonous usually that you could eat them in moderation without problem in most cases. Some people might be more prone to getting symptoms. Tomatine removes colesterol when it comes out and might be problem with some medical conditions, but it’s also used as colestorol medicine. The amount of toxins in green tomatoes depends on variety. More domesticated have very little, but some that are closer to wild forms could have up to 100 times more. Also the more ripe they are the less they will have even if they are green. Ripening process starts from inside out weeks before colour change. You can definetely taste it if you have something that has more toxins. It will burn your tongue.

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That’s Interesting, hmm It makes you appreciate what people have done through Years of Breeding. I’ve never tried Wild Tomatoes before so I can’t say about their taste. I also heard Every Plant is technically Poisonous and Edible, the difference lies in the dosage so maybe this applies here.

Thank you for the Valuable Information! I’ve seen some YouTuber’s & Chefs cook with Green Tomato’s but how do they eat them if cooking doesn’t break down the toxins in green toamtoes? Chefs only use a few unripe Green tomatoes? Wait can’t all tomatoes just ripen off the vine? Even when they are mostly green?

Hmm… 100 times more you say, well damn no wonder they would taste so bitter. and burn your tongue? Is this burn Similar to how the Flesh around melon seeds do?

@JesseI and @Joseph_Lofthouse This is something I’m interested in understanding a little better; are the toxins found in the tomato clan “safe” in that they provide a warning (a nasty taste/burning sensation?) Or do some of them have dangerous toxins that don’t provide a warning?

My concern is whether I can safely share GTS wild-derived tomato material with friends and family; once I lose control of the things, who knows how they will be used, possibly by people who have no understanding about how they might be different than normal tomatoes.

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In my experience, poisonous varieties of tomatoes warn you not to eat them. People ask me about the safety of eating tomato leaves. I respond, “hell no!”. The taste tells me everything I need to know about their safety.

I have poisoned myself with other species from Solanum (potato berries, and black nightshade). Therefore, I exercise due diligence. Solanum nigrum doesn’t give warning. Very ripe potato berries immediately feel emetic.

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I’m no provessional so can’t say for sure and like I said it all depends on person how much you need. Tomatine atleast is a very mild poison and organization under Canadian healt office (or whatever the official name was) has determined from studies that you would need 0.5kg of tomato leaves to get poisoning. Even those green tomatoes with more toxins you would still need to eat some to have tummy ache. I would not worry that much, it’s only green tomatoes that will have those (not including green when ripe). Even potato tubers (without green in them) have caused poisonings. For them if skin is bitter it has poisons.

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Before certain point they don’t atleast ripen normally. They might have forced ripening where normally red tomato get’s yellowish to light orange, but I don’t think that’s same process as normally and I’m not sure if that would get rid of the toxins. Toxicity in general in green tomatoes is a bit overrated. Standard potatoes have toxins and you could definetely get poisoning by eating potatoes that have save (there is a limit that commercial potato must meet) amounts of toxins. It’s probably more culture thing that green tomatoes get warned against and potatoes not as much (except those that have green peel). People are used to eating potatoes but not green tomatoes. Might be also over generational thing from time when tomatoes had just arrived and maybe then it was more common to have varieties that had more toxins. Still I would be little careful and not forcefully eat big amounts. Choose tomatoes that are closer to ripeness. Usually those with lighter colour). I would maybe also avoid using cherry tomatoes green as those tended to have more. I’m not familiar with flesh around melon seeds burning. I would say it’s similar to testing batteries on your tongue.

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Exactly, Tomato leaves are Poisonous, even PFAF said everything Green from Tomato (Which includes Leaves) is Poisonous!

However some Varieties of Black Nightshade (Another Solanum, but Different Subgenus) Technically have edible leaves (But I still wouldn’t bother with it cuz there are so many other safer greens). I read from Samuel Thayer’s Book Nature’s Garden. In it he would only use the most tender Young shoots of Black Nightshade before it Flowered as a Potherb because older growth was bitter. Said it was equal in quality to Amaranth or Lambsquaters. with rich mild flavor. Then he would boil them for 15min and repeat until bitterness goes away. There have also been Cultivars of Black Nightshade for the edible leaves in different countries like the Philipeans or India. Scientific name of the Cultivated Variety are Solanum nodiflorum subsp. nodiflorum = Solanum americanum subsp. nodiflorum.

Here’s the Link to where I learned about it, Vaulable Info on Landracing Black Nightshade too!

Reguardless tho all Black Nightshade fruits when Ripe are Technically edible too! (Some more than others, I assume probably similar to how Wild Tomatoes are too!)

What do you mean by that Joseph? Like it’s not a well behaved poison? I’m also curious to know how your experience pairs with Samuel Thayer’s

Also should mention by Black Nightshade I mean (Solanum nigrum complex) and not (Atropa belladonna) which is often Stupidly Named Black Nighshade as well :roll_eyes:
NEVER EAT Atropa belladonna EVER, it can and Probably will KILL YOU!

THANK YOU!!! For such Valuable information.
Also Aren’t Cherry Tomatoes more closely related to the wild type than the beefsteak Tomatoes? Maybe this is why they tended to have more? and Truly Wild ones, even more so?

Also won’t the Yellowish to Light Orange Tomatoes eventually Ripen red like they suppose if enough time is given? I did with Greenish (Some spots Orange/Yellow but mostly green) Tomatoes from my Neighbor.

That’s also begs the questions, can any Potato berries be made edible too? I doubt it but who can confirm at this point?

With the melon seeds burning, you just have to try cleaning melon seeds with your mouth and eventually you will feel it. Probably not good for teeth & gums tho.

I would guess that there has been less selection on cherry tomatoes over the centuries and that’s why they could have less. I’m not that familiar with green tomato traditions, but aren’t those often done with bigger fruits? Probably there has been some selection based on how useful they are also as green. When I looked into toxicity in green tomatoes I remember the one that was lot more poisonous was some wild/feral cherry from somewhere in the andies. I suppose it’s quite a natural defence in plants not to have their berries eaten before ripeness so would make sense there is more in wild/feral.

Potato berries have very varied amounts of toxins debending on variety. Some varieties have less toxic berries than other varieties tubers so they definetely can be edible, but are they any good even then is another matter. Even the more poisonous berries you would still need small handful to get poisoning as adult so they aren’t as poisonous as many would think. Definetely good recommendation not to eat them though.

I have cleaned lot’s of melon seeds in my mouth. I do recognize some feeling while doing it, but I’m not sure it’s because of the seeds. I think it’s just doing it that makes it feel funny. Maybe there is little acidity that adds to that. Nothing to compare with when you have green tomato that has lot’s of toxins.

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Yea I the acidity of the pulp that surrounds the Melons is was does it for me.
I’ve never eaten a green Tomato so thank you for sharing your experience. Does cooking reduce it or is it still useless/pointless?

That was mostly from experience with cooked. One time I made lot’s from cherry tomatoes and it took long to use them. Could not eat them by themselves, but it made quite good spice in curry when used in small amounts. I think I have done the battery test with uncooked fruits also. Cooking doesn’t affect those toxins, but you could still use them in moderation debending on how much bitterness they have. I remember some not being that bitter so it must be just about selecting what you use for it. Personally I ripen them indoors and those that don’t ripen are not used. Haven’t had that problem in recent years. This year is a bit behind, but I think most will ripen indoors.

Hmm I assume the same thing Applies to Groundcherries (Physalis spp.) ? Because it makes me think, how did Green Tomaillo’s become a thing? They both Belong to same genus and can hybridize so what gives? I’ve heard that unripe Physalis fruit were eaten by Native Americans when Cooked enough. Making me think are Physalis not so poisonous when unripe unlike Tomatoes because then Green Tomatillos would have Battery Acid taste right? or are Tomatillos bred in a way where unripe fruit is edible raw safely. If so does that mean the same can be done with Tomatoes?
Or am I confusing Green Tomatillos as unripe? in otherwords are all green tomatillos unripe and the true ripe color of Green Tomatillos is actually Pale Yellow?
I’m asking because even tho ripe green tomatoes exist, they still look, smell and feel different from unripe green tomatoes.

Don’t have that much experience with tomatillos, but they atleast don’t hybridize with ground cherries. In general. There was some study in in this forum with list of tomatillo ground cherry crosses and you would need embrio rescue to have change. As for how poisonous ground cherries are as green I don’t know, but atleast their leaves are in large quantities for lifestock. It’s likely that their “poison” is different and thus allows use when cooked or it just have been consumed in moderation. My understanding is that most tomatillos are green when ripe, but I suppose there is always some colour change. Some have purple colours, some turn yellow and some even orange/red (those are from new breeding). I suppose the shell turning colour is most clear indication of physical ripeness. Ones I tested raw and apparently under ripe had oxalic acid taste in them that is considered poison, but you would really need to get lot of it. Not sure if that is even in it. Can’t say if they have had some breeding to lessen that acidity, but it seems likely. Ofcourse it could be done with tomatoes, and I think have been done. You can eat them savely as raw in modaration, but I’m not sure you would want to.

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I’m actually surprised Tomatillos Crossing with Ground Cherries need Embryo Rescue techniques. I’ve thought it was easily crossable like any other Physalis spp, especially since I’ve haven’t found a Phyaslis spp. that could self pollinate.
hmm… Could Mentor Pollination help without requiring embryo rescue? Like if we Mix Tomatillo Pollen with Groundcherry Pollen to Pollinate another Groundcherry Flower? That way you can Trick it into accepting pollen it otherwise wouldn’t have? Maybe Mentor Grafting too?

Or is the Hybridization between the 2 Phyaslis spp. similar to how when Grown together, Cucurbita maxima & Cucubita pepo don’t cross? If so that cross is easily Bridgeable.
Are there any Hybrids (Of Groundcherry x Tomatillo) available that could be used as a bridge to breed Larger Ground Cherries?

Ground cherries should cross quite widely with other ground cherries, but not even all them cross like p.peruvianum doesn’t cross with other cultivated species. Tomatillo had the best change of crossing with some more obscure species so it’s not like you could even get cross with those that are normally consumed. You would need bridge species and embrio rescue both so it’s not that feasable. I think ground cherries should be self pollinating. Atleast I’ve had them form fruits from first flower. Tomatillos on the other hand took some time before bumble bees got busy with them. There are atleast some p.peruvianum varieties that have large fruit. I’m hoping to get larger fruit just with cross species crosses with ground cherries, but I’m just getting started.