Tag Archives: plant

Did You Know… There’s A Plant That Produces Both Tomatoes and Potatoes?

The “TomTato” is a veggie lover’s dream: above ground, it’s a tomato plant; below ground, it’s a potato plant.

The idea was the brainchild of the horticultural firm Thompson and Morgan, based in Ipswich, England.

Although the concept sounds crazy, the plants are not genetically modified; rather, they are created using grafting. This process involves making matching incisions into two different plants which allows you to connect them.

A similar process was recently used by a professor from Syracuse University to create a tree that produces 40 different types of fruit.

A basic diagram of the grafting process. Click to enlarge

The current version of the TomTato is the culmination of 10 years of development.

Early versions of the plant had issues with taste, but advances in grafting technology have allowed Thompson and Morgan to perfect their process.

“It has been very difficult to achieve because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work,”

said Thompson and Morgan director Paul Hansord.

According to the horticultural firm, the tomatoes ripen right around the same time that the potatoes can be dug up.

The “TomTato” plant in all its glory. Click to enlarge

Many people in England have their own small vegetable gardens, but don’t have the space to grow as many different types of vegetables as they would like.

Thompson and Morgan hopes that the plant will gain popularity amongst these people, and possibly even start a trend towards more vegetable hybridization in the future.

If the tomatoes and potatoes really are as good as the company’s director claims, the TomTato could very well start popping in up vegetable plots all over the world.

Read the original story from the BBC here.

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Scientists Just Discovered A New Metal-Eating Plant Species

A group of scientists from the University of the Philippines- Los Baños recently discovered a new species of plant that has developed a taste for metal, more specifically for nickel.

The plant, which they named Rinorea niccolifera because of its appetite for the metal, is able to absorb nickel in extremely high amounts, accumulating it at up to 18,000 ppm (parts per million) in its leaves without being poisoned.

These levels are a hundred to a thousand times greater than in most plants. According to the CDC, levels of Nickel above 5 ppm are “immediately dangerous to life” for humans.

Rinorea niccolifera (click to enlarge)

Nickel hyperaccumulation is a very rare attribute- only about 0.5-1% of plants living in nickel-rich soil have the ability. This new species was discovered in the iron-rich western region of the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

Plants with this extraordinary ability could prove to be extremely useful to us in the near future. Here’s Augustine Doronila from the University of Melbourne’s School of Chemistry, who co-authored the report which was published in Science Daily on May 9th:

“Hyperacccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, ‘phytoremediation’ and ‘phytomining’.”

Some close ups of the plant at various stages in its development (click to enlarge)

Phytoremediation is the use of hyperaccumulators like this new species to remove heavy metals from soils contaminated by industrial processes. Nickel contamination can destroy entire ecosystems.

Phytomining, on the other hand, is the practice of growing hyperaccumulators to collect metals from the earth so that the metals can be harvested from the plants and used commercially.

Read more from Science Daily here.