Toluca, a city of the republic, capital of the state, and 30 m. TV. S. W. of the city of Mexico; pop. about 12,000. It is in a valley about 8,800 ft. above the sea, and has spacious, well paved streets, a public square, and several fine churches. Of late years its trade and industry have much declined. Near the town is the volcanic mountain of the same name, which rises to the height of 16,610 ft. above the sea. TOMATO, a plant of the Solanaceoe or nightshade family, cultivated for its fruit. It is a native of tropical or sub-tropical America, and its name, given in the earlier works as tumatl and tomatl, is of Indian origin. The plant was originally placed in the genus lycopersicum, which Linnaeus reduced to Solanum; but later botanists, thinking that the difference in the anthers, which are united at the tips and open by a longitudinal slit, and not by a pore at the apex as in Solanum, was a sufficient distinction, restored the genus, and call the tomato lycopersicum esculentum; while some still adhere to the view of Linnaeus, and class the plant as Solanum lycopersicum. The older English writers call the fruit love apple; in France pomme d'amour, and in Italy pomi d'amore, are still in use, perpetuating the old notion that their use as food had an influence upon the passions.
Peru is regarded as its native country, but it has not been found there or elsewhere in a truly wild state, and it had probably been long in cultivation before the advent of the Europeans. The tomato has weak stems about 4 ft. long, and when left to itself forms a much branched trailing or prostrate plant. Its leaves are irregularly pinnate, with the larger leaflets themselves cut or divided; both stem and leaves are clothed with soft viscid hairs, which exude a strong-smelling, rather fetid, and somewhat resinous substance, which stains the hands and clothing when the plants are handled. It has been lately said that an infusion of tomato leaves is effective in destroying plant lice. The flower stalks, or peduncles, are extra-axillary and bear racemose clusters of yellow flowers, which, with the exception in the anthers already noted, have a similar structure to those of the Solanums. (See Solanum.) The fruit is normally a two- or three-celled berry, but in the cultivated plant there are usually numerous cells; the fruit, especially in the larger specimens, often has a very complicated structure, resulting from the union of two or more flowers; their pistils being fused together present at maturity a curiously abnormal fruit, in which all traces of the original structure are lost.
The cultivated tomatoes present a great variety in form, color, and size, and it is not known whether they are from several species or are different forms of one very variable species. The plant is remarkably plastic, and by selecting seeds from fruit with desirable peculiarities, it is very easy to establish a strain or variety. When tomatoes were first cultivated in our gardens there was but one variety; this had a large, red, much wrinkled, and often irreguhar and misshapen fruit, with a thick outer wall, and a central placenta bearing the seeds surrounded by their pulp, and a considerable cavity or empty space between the two. By selection this was improved as to its surface, and greater solidity acquired, and the strain known as the smooth red was obtained, which is still one of the best. The variety known as the "Trophy" probably combines more good qualities than any other; it has very large and smooth fruit, which is solid throughout, and of the best possible quality; this is the result of 20 years' careful selection, by an intelligent grower, with a definite end in view.
Many attempts have been made to increase the earliness of the fruit, but improvement in this direction is limited by the law that every plant needs a certain aggregate amount of heat to bring it to maturity; the varieties "Conqueror" and "Canada Victor" have apparently reached this limit. Among the very distinct varieties is the "Feejee," which has a large rose or pinkish red fruit; there are several yellow varieties and one nearly white large one, and there are both yellow and red of smaller sorts named according to the shape and size of the fruit, such as the pear, plum, and cherry tomatoes; the currant tomato, which has berries scarcely larger than a large currant, in long racemes, and delicate foliage, is very ornamental, and apparently a distinct species, probably L. cerasiforme. The upright or tree tomato originated in France; its main stem is thick, and its few branches so short and strong that it carries its weight of large fruit without support; but it is not very productive. Less than half a century ago the tomato ' was almost unknown to northern gardens, or cultivated in them only as a curiosity, but at present it is one of the most popular of vegetables.
As the fruit will color and ripen when picked green, it can be transported to great distances, if properly packed in small crates with abundant openings for ventilation; the first tomatoes in the northern markets, come from Bermuda, appearing in February, followed successively by contributions from Florida, Georgia, etc, before the fruit from the gardens near by is ripe. At the north the seeds are sown in hot-beds, the young plants set out in other hot-beds, and finally transplanted to cold frames, where they may be protected at night until the weather is warm enough to set them in the open ground. Light, well manured soils are better than heavy ones for this crop; in field culture the plants soon fall over with the weight of fruit and are allowed to lie upon the ground, but in private gardens they are supported by a frame or trellis, or tacked up to a fence or the side of a building; by proper pruning and removing the excess of young fruit, the size and quality of that allowed to ripen is greatly improved. - The tomato is used in a greaf variety of ways, being eaten raw as a salad, stewed, baked, broiled, and as an ingredient of soups, stews, and sauces; it is used to make a popular catsup, and is pickled and preserved in various ways. - The strawberry tomato is described under Physalis.
Varieties of the Tomato. 1. Common Red. 2. The "Trophy." S. Tear-shaped. 4. Currant Tomato.