Tomato nose. Yeah, this guy.
I’ve spotted a few tomatoes with “noses” over the years, but never stopped to ask what causes a tomato with a nose? Tomato nose is actually a genetic defect that, according to some sources, affects 1 out of every 1,000 plants.
When you slice open a tomato, inside the tomato are five or six chambers, called locules. Most tomatoes have between four and six. You can see from the picture below an average tomato with five locules.
What Causes ‘Tomato Nose?
As a tomato grows from a single, fertilized cell, some cells divide and become the locules. A “nose” grows from a locule that divides incorrectly. Science!
What is so interesting to me is that extended high temperatures over 90 degrees, particularly warm evening temperatures, can increase the likelihood of the deformity. We had an awful ‘heat dome’ over the past few weeks that kept temps into the 80s overnight. I think that may have increased the chance of my wonky tomato face. It may affect only a few tomatoes.
Some say that heirloom varieties are more likely to be affected. This plant is either a “Celebrity” or “Supersonic” tomato variety. These are supposed to be better able to withstand southern heat.
I don’t mind. Tomato nose is fun:
The big question remains: can you eat a tomato with a deformity like this?
The wonky genetics doesn’t compromise the taste.
Now there are many other tomato diseases that create odd-looking tomatoes that look or taste bad. But as far as tomato problems go, I will take this one any day.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.