Cherry tomato plants are highly popular plants to grow in your garden, as they produce small fruits that many enjoy in different foods. These tomato plants can be found in all home veggie gardens as they are easy to grow and can produce a good harvest of small tomatoes that can feed you and your family for weeks.
The harvest can sometimes be so large that you will need to gift family, friends, and neighbors some tomatoes, as you won’t be able to eat them all before they go off. As cherry tomato plants are such good producers, they are highly popular among survivalists and homesteading enthusiasts, as you get a lot of fruit for little work.
Many people enjoy growing and caring for cherry tomato plants as they can make various tomato products that are healthier than those you can buy from a store, as the tomatoes are fresher. You can make tomato jam, sauce, soup, pickles, and so much more with your home-grown cherry tomatoes that are fresh and juicy.
Cherry tomato plants grow well in most environmental conditions, but they require a large amount of water daily to produce a good harvest, as tomatoes have a high water content. Tomatoes are also filled with nutrients that can help keep you healthy, so they should be included in your meals for a well-balanced diet.
There are many reasons growing cherry tomato plants in your garden is a good idea, but not every plant that sprouts in your garden and looks like a tomato is a true tomato plant. Many plants look like cherry tomatoes, some of which are safe to eat, while others can be extremely toxic to humans and animals, so you need to be cautious.
If you find a plant that resembles a tomato plant growing in your garden, don’t feel lucky just yet, as it could be a toxic plant disguised as a tomato plant. First, ensure you identify the plant correctly and ensure it’s safe to eat before you celebrate and try to eat it.
Cherry tomato plants are popular, and many wish to grow them in their gardens to help add to their diets and bring down food bills. It is possible to have tomatoes growing in your garden without you planting them, as the seeds could have been carried to your garden by a bird or other animal.
However, if you see a tomato-like plant sprouting and growing in your garden, and you haven’t planted tomatoes in your garden or in that specific location in your garden, you need to be more cautious and identify the plant properly to ensure that it is a cherry tomato plant or that the fruit is safe to eat.
There are multiple plants that can sprout in your garden that look similar, if not identical, to cherry tomato plants. Let’s go through the common plants you might find in your garden that look like cherry tomato plants and whether these plants are safe to consume the same way you would cherry tomatoes.
1. Black Nightshade
Black nightshade is a plant that has a strong resemblance to the cherry tomato plant, but this plant has straighter leaves, and the stem and leaves are a brighter green compared to cherry tomato plants. Even with these slight changes in appearance, they can be confused with each other if you are a novice plant enthusiast.
Black nightshade also produces a small round fruit that can be confused for unripe cherry tomatoes as they are both green while still maturing. Once the fruit of the Black Nightshade begins to ripen, it will turn dark purple.
These small round fruits also smell like a cherry tomato and look like one when you cut them open, but you cannot eat these small fruits as they are considered toxic. If you find this plant growing in your garden, leave it alone or pull it out, but do not try to eat it, and do not give it to animals to eat either.
2. Red Soda Apple Plants
Another plant that looks like cherry tomatoes are the Red Soda Apple plants. This is also a perennial plant that grows and looks like a cherry tomato plant. The leaves, stems, and flowers of Red Soda Apple plants look very similar to those of the cherry tomato plant, meaning they get misidentified constantly.
These plants also produce a small round fruit that looks like a cherry tomato, even down to the stunning red color. Red Soda Apple plants are toxic and should not be eaten by humans or animals, as they can cause varying negative effects on your health.
A good way you can help identify a Red Soda Apple from a cherry tomato is by the spikes on the stems of the Red Soda Apple plant that are not on cherry tomato plants.
These spikes can be easy to miss, so research and identify them correctly before eating anything from the plant. If you find a Red Soda Apple growing in your garden, pull it out to help avoid confusion between it and the cherry tomatoes you want to plant in the future.
3. Litchi Tomato Plants
Another plant that looks almost exactly like a cherry tomato plant is the litchi tomato plant. This plant has the same flower, leaf type, and stem as a cherry tomato plant, but they have thorns that grow on the underside of the leaves and the stems, which can help identify them.
If you don’t see these thorns or are unsure if they are thorns, it is easy to confuse the litchi tomato plant with a cherry tomato plant. Litchi tomato plants also produce small round fruits that look similar to cherry tomatoes. These small fruits have dark red skin but yellow flesh inside the fruit.
When these fruits are ripe, they can be eaten safely. You must wait until you can pull them off the vine easily before eating them. This indicates they are ripe and ready to be picked. If you find this plant growing in your garden, you can keep it, as it can give you some good-tasting fruit you can eat safely.
4. Wild Cherry Plants
Wild cherry plants look similar to cherry tomato plants, especially young ones. Wild cherry plants grow into trees as they mature, breaking the illusion that they are cherry tomatoes, but until this time, it is easy to misidentify them.
Wild cherry plants produce small bright red fruits that can be confused with cherry tomatoes. These fruits are edible and can make for a tasty and refreshing treat on hot days. The fruit of this plant is the only part you should eat, as the leaves can gather a good amount of cyanide when they begin to wilt.
If you see and identify a wild cherry plant growing in your garden, leave it there to grow and establish itself, as this plant will produce some lovely fruit for you and your family to enjoy.
5. Horse Nettle Plants
Horse Nettle is a plant that closely resembles a cherry tomato plant almost exactly. These plants are perennials, like tomato plants, have spiny stems and spiky leaves, and will generally grow in large amounts in the wild. This plant produces small round fruit that looks like small yellow cherry tomatoes.
The Horse Nettle flowers also look identical to the flowers of a tomato plant, making distinguishing them from each other extremely challenging. These plants are considered a weed and lethal if eaten by humans and animals.
Horse Nettle is part of the Nightshade plant family, making all parts of the plant toxic. You should avoid this plant where possible and pull it from your garden should you find it growing there.