Tomato plants are highly popular plants to grow in your garden. These plants can be found in almost all home veggie gardens as they are easy to grow and produce a large harvest that can feed you and your family for weeks.
Sometimes the harvest is so large that you will need to give away some tomatoes as you won’t be able to use them before they go bad. As tomatoes are such good producers, they are extremely popular among homesteading and survivalist enthusiasts, as you get a lot of rewards for little work.
Many people enjoy growing tomato plants to help produce various tomato products that are healthier than those you can buy from a store. You can make tomato sauce, jam, soup, pickles, and more with your home-grown tomatoes that are fresh and juicy straight from your garden.
Tomato plants grow well in most conditions, but they require a lot of water to produce their fruit properly, as tomatoes have a high water concentration. Tomatoes are filled with nutrients that can help keep you healthy, which is why they should be a part of a well-balanced diet.
There are many reasons growing tomato plants in your garden is a good idea, but not every plant that looks like a tomato is a true tomato plant. There are several plants that look like tomatoes, some of which can be extremely toxic to humans and animals, so you need to be aware of them.
If you find a plant that resembles a tomato plant in your garden, don’t feel lucky too quickly, as it could be a toxic plant disguised as a tomato plant. First, ensure you identify the plant correctly before you celebrate.
Tomato plants are popular, and many people choose to grow them in their gardens to help add to their diets, so it is possible to have tomatoes growing in your garden without you planting them, as the seeds could have been carried to your garden through a bird or other animal.
However, if you see a tomato-like plant growing in your garden, and you haven’t planted tomatoes in your garden or in that specific location, then you need to be more cautious and identify the plant correctly to ensure that it is a tomato plant.
There are several weeds and other plants that look similar to tomato plants, even growing small round fruits that look like tomatoes, but they are dangerous and will harm you if you eat them. Let’s go through the most common plants that look like tomato plants that you might find in your garden.
1. Horse Nettle
Horse Nettle is a common plant that resembles a tomato plant, almost to a tee. These plants are perennials and have spiny stems and spiky leaves and will generally grow in abundance in the wild. This plant will produce small round fruit that looks like small yellow tomatoes.
The flowers of the Horse Nettle also look identical to the flowers of a tomato plant, making identifying them extremely challenging. These plants are mainly considered a weed and can be lethal if eaten.
Horse Nettle is part of the Nightshade 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.
2. Litchi Tomato Plants
Another plant that looks almost identical to a tomato plant is a litchi tomato plant. This plant has the same leaf type, stem, and flower as a tomato plant, but they have thorns that grow on the stems and underside of the leaves.
If you don’t see these thorns, it is extremely easy to confuse the litchi tomato with a regular tomato plant. This plant also produces small round fruits that resemble cherry tomatoes. These fruits have dark red skin and yellow flesh.
When these small round fruits are ripe, they can be eaten safely. You need to wait until you can easily pull them off the vine before you eat them, as this indicates they are ripe and ready to be picked. So, this plant can stay in your garden if you find it, as it can give you some good-tasting fruit you can safely eat.
3. Black Nightshade
Black nightshade is another plant that bears a striking resemblance to the humble tomato plant. This plant has straighter leaves, and the stem and leaves are a brighter green than the tomato plant, but they can be confused with each other if you are a novice plant enthusiast.
Black nightshade plants also produce a small round fruit that can be confused for an unripe cherry tomato as they are both green while still maturing. Once the Black Nightshade fruit ripens, it will turn a dark purple.
Related: Are Green Tomatoes Poisonous?
These fruits will also smell like a tomato and look like one when cut open, but you cannot eat them as they are considered toxic. If you find this plant in your garden, leave it alone or pull it out, but do not try to eat it.
4. Garden Huckleberry
Garden Huckleberry is a plant that looks like a tomato plant. Garden Huckleberry plants are part of the Nightshade family and can be confused with a tomato plant if you are unsure what to look for. This can be dangerous, as these plants are toxic and can cause extreme harm to your health if you eat them.
These plants have straighter leaves, and the stems and leaves are a brighter green when compared to tomato plants. The entire Garden Huckleberry plant is not toxic, as some parts of Africa use the leaves as a leaf vegetable.
However, the small berries these plants produce are toxic and should not be eaten. These berries look like cherry tomatoes, but they are generally green.
Another plant that regularly gets confused with a tomato plant is the Persimmon plant. This is a popular fruit that many people enjoy eating, but it looks like a tomato plant, especially when the fruit is green and still maturing on the stem.
The Persimmon plant looks like a regular tomato plant with its large fruits and slightly wavy green leaves. The fruits this plant produces are sweet and can be used in many different ways depending on your tastes. This plant starts growing into more of a tree as it matures, breaking the look it shares with the tomato plant.
So, if you find a Persimmon plant growing in your garden, leave it there and wait for the delicious fruit to develop and ripen, and you will have a lovely fruit tree at your disposal.
Related: When Are Persimmons In Season?
6. Red Soda Apple
Up next on the list of plants that look like tomatoes are the Red Soda Apple plants. This is a perennial plant that looks like a tomato plant and grows like one too. The leaves, flowers, and stems of this plant look very similar to those of the tomato plant, which is why they get misidentified all the time.
Red Soda Apple plants also produce a small fruit that looks like a cherry tomato, even down to the bright red color. However, Red Soda Apple plants are toxic and should not be eaten by humans or animals, as they can cause adverse effects on your health.
One way you can help identify a Red Soda Appl from a tomato is by the spikes on the stems of the Red Soda Apple plant.
However, these can be easy to miss, so do some research and identify them correctly before trying to eat them. If you find a Red Soda Apple in your garden, pull it out to avoid confusion between it and the tomatoes you want to plant.