A British company, Thomson and Morgan, made the news last month when they announced a new botanical creation, the “Tomtato”, a Frakenstein plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes.

 The company affirms that it is not a product of genetic Engineering as one might think at first hand but the result of a natural grafting technique – it is the top of a cherry tomato plant and the bottom of a potato plant that have been grafted together.  Grafting plants is quite common in agriculture and it is done by joining two plants by cutting their stems and fastening them together leaving nature to do the rest. Tomatoes belong to the same family as potatoes, Solanaceae, they are therefore naturally compatible, each plant is grafted individually, there is no genetic engineering involved, the process is completely natural.

 The company director said he first had the idea for the plant 15 years ago in the US, when he visited a garden where someone had planted a potato under a tomato as a joke. In reality this isn’t the first time that these plants have been created, in the case of the TomTato it is the first time they will be made available for the general public. The company affirms from their web site that it is a more sophisticated form of grafting.

“It has been very difficult to achieve because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work,” company director Paul Hansford told the BBC“We didn’t have much faith on these plants in the past” commented a spokesman for the company but over the years grafting techniques have improved enormously.

 No information is given regarding the type of tomato or white potato, however they assure that every plant is able to produce around 2 kg and up to 500 cherry tomatoes.

 The TomTato will be made commercially available in the UK from May 2014 for the price of 14,99 Pounds (around 18 Euros) this includes a special fertilizer pack. In spite all the hype we found a few downsides; the first one is that for this price you can buy more tomatoes and potato from a supermarket shelf, the second one is that it is not possible to reproduce. This means that in reality you are dependent on the company that sells the product; unless you have the know how and you are able to figure out how to graft a tomato plant on a potato shoot. The same principle applies for the majority of hybrid seeds. The seed will produce a crop but it will not reproduce true for the second generation. The TomTato will  last only for one season after that you will need to buy more  the following year.

Thomson and Morgan say that the “The tomatoes are sugary yet tangy with a brix of 10.2, and below ground this plant produces delicious, versatile potato ideal for boiling, mashing, roasting and making chips”.

 A similar experiment has been carried out in new Zeeland where another monster plant has been created the Potato tom.  Here is a video of the TomTato.