How to Identify a Tomato Plant by the Leaves

Overview

Tomatoes are one of the most common plants in a garden. Plant identification may be a challenge when there is no distinct flower or young tomatoes emerging on the greenery. Tomato plants have similarities to some weeds and wild tomato plants. When pulling weeds from the garden or purchasing seedlings in a greenhouse, it is helpful to know how to identify the true tomato plant leaf. Emerging tomato seedlings have two oblong-rounded leaves that lie on either side of the first true leaf that sprouts days later.

Step 1

Observe the plant in question. A healthy, garden-ready seedling is a medium to deep green color.

Step 2

Notice that the leaves on the tomato plant are 10 inches long on an average stem. Small leaflets are three inches long.

Step 3

Look at the leaves and notice the serrated, or wavy and pointed, edging along the entire leaf. Tomato leaves are compound with multiple leaflets growing along a common stem, called a rachis.

Step 4

Touch the leaf and feel a slight fuzziness, which is caused by the trichomes, or multi-cellular hairs, on the plant.

Step 5

Sniff your fingers after touching a tomato plant leaf. Tomato leaves have a pungent scent that lingers on the skin. A yellow substance, which produces the scent, is secreted from glandular trichomes. The strong scent is lingering and can be removed with soap and water.

References

  • UC Davis: Anatomy of a Tomato Leaf
  • Plant Science: The Making of a Compound Leaf

Who Can Help

  • Plum Bot: Growing Tomato
Keywords: trichomes, compound leaf, tomato seedling

About this Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written online content for Demand Studios and Associated Content. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Children's Literature course in 1988.