Scientific name: Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.
The origins of the tomato are on the American continent, possibly in places of high altitude, where some wild forms are still to be found. s far as can be ascertained, the Indians did not include tomato in their diet. It is thought that owning to the intense odour of its foliage when touched, the tomato was included among the so-called «devil's herb», which human were forbidden to use. There are indications that the Spaniards brought it to Europe in 1523, and it has been known in Italy since 1544 and in England since 1597.
It may well first have been grown in Europe as a novelty plant. The forms introduced, at least Italy, had small yellow fruit, from which the plant derives its Italian name, po,odoro or «golden apple». The Europeans improved the tomato, particulary the size of the fruit, and made it more attractive to horticulturists. Gaspar Frutuoso emphasizes the variety of ways in which the tomato was consumed, being «at the same fruit, vegetable and dressing». It is not known exactly when the tomato was first introduced to Portugal.
What can be concluded is that the plant was widely distributed as a vegetable in Portugal, and Rocha Pitta, referring to the tomato in Brazil, regarded it as a «European vegetable», which leads one to suppose that improved varieties had already returned to America. The tomato was probably introduced to Africa and the Orient by the Portuguese as a «vegetable», possibly from Eurpoe, and subsequently improved, as mentioned above.