Poisonous Tomato Plants

Tomatoes were brought to Europe from Chile, Columbia and Peru in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. Europeans believed the fruits were poisonous because of their membership in the nightshade family. In 1820, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson dispelled this myth by eating a tomato on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey. Today, tomatoes are one of the most popular homegrown vegetables. An average American consumes more than 80 lbs. of tomatoes annually.

Green Tomatoes

While southerners have long enjoyed fried green tomatoes, green tomatoes are toxic to pets, causing gastro-intestinal symptoms. Raw, green tomatoes may cause upset stomachs in people, as well. Cook green tomatoes, and keep them away from cats and dogs.

Tomato Vines

Tomato plants are part of the Solanaceae or nightshade plant family, which includes peppers, potatoes, paprika, nicotiana and belladonna. Tomato vines produce toxic alkaloids and are poisonous to people and animals.

Tomato Leaves

Tomato leaves are also toxic if eaten and may cause skin irritation. Keep tomato plants away from children and pets. The plant's botanical name, Lycopersicon, means "wolf peach" in Latin, referring to the plant's toxic properties.

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About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.