On June 13th, 2016 we learned about

Spiny, sanguine, seed-filled, salty, and stony tomato named by students

Tomatoes are fantastic. They’re packed with nutrients like licopene, come in a variety of colors and are tasty enough to be an ingredient in everything from pizza to salads to tacos. The newest member of the Solanaceae family, named the “Australian blood bone tomato,” doesn’t sound anywhere near as enticing as a “cherry” or “plum” tomato. This is because it’s legitimately unpleasant, and because it was named by middle schoolers.

While the blood bone tomato plant (Solanum ossicruentum) seems nice enough, with green leaves and light-purple flowers, the fruit itself is a bit nastier than anything you might see in the grocery store. On the outside, each fruit is covered with burrs, probably to catch in animals’ fur and move seeds to new locations. Once past the burs, slicing into the tomato is will reveal green-white flesh, that then appears to bleed bright red juice after a few moments of oxidation in the air. Furthering the disappointment, each fruit is only a few centimeters across, with a very high number of seeds since no human breeding has pushed the species towards a fleshier body. There’s also been no efforts to breed for taste, and the blood bone tomato fruit has been reported as being salty at best. To drive the point home that these tomatoes don’t belong on your salads, they harden into hard, bony-looking nuggets as they dry out. Yum.

As far as tomatoes go, these may seem like crazy mutants, but aren’t really huge outliers for wild plants. The tomatoes humans prefer to grow and eat are the result of ages of cultivation, as humans obviously preferred sweet, fleshy fruit over the tiny, wax berries wild plants normally grew. This plant obviously earned the name blood bone tomato, but their practically hostile anatomy isn’t necessarily a huge surprise.

Assitance from experts

These tomatoes had been gathered from the Australian outback over a year ago, but it they were still unnamed while being prepared for a published description. The lead researcher, Chris Martine of Bucknell University, reached out to Bradley Catherman at the Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School to involve students in the scientific process, but also because 12- to 14-year-olds would surely be experts in the idea of gross, inedible veggies. The students were tasked with writing explanations for their suggested names, and then translating those suggestions into Latin for proper binomial nomenclature. The students clearly did a wonderful job with their selected name, which very specifically describes just how unappetizing this tomato is. Feel free to skip eating them the next time you’re in Australia.

Source: Curious new bush species growing 'bleeding' fruits named by a US class of 150 7th graders, Science Daily

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