Garden Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) found fruiting this autumn in riparian positions on Edgar’s Creek in Reservoir and amidst the rockeries along the top of Treasury Gardens in central Melbourne.
Naturalised occurrences of Tomato were recorded in NSW as early as the 1880s, and it has gone on to become a significant coastal weed in tropical northern Australia. However, the first report of the species growing wild in Victoria was only made in 1988. Fewer frosts, ever expanding infrastructural spaces and a growing awareness that the plants are out in the environment and worth recording are presumably all contributing to a growing body of reports around the state.
Tomatoes remain annual plants that are still ultimately checked by Victoria’s dry summers and cold winters. They are most likely to find ongoing reproductive success where they enjoy a degree of concealment in order to avoid removal (as a plant that very recognisably does not belong) or intentional harvesting of their fruit. The remarks attached to a recent iNaturalist observation from Wangaratta record an incidental response that quite frequently prevents the perpetuation of new generations from what are often solitary plants: ‘one plant growing wild beside bike path – I ate three (after cleaning them) and they were quite tasty.’