Asked October 22, 2014, 5:36 PM EDT
I have a couple of ripe tomatoes that began to sprout tiny green stems and leaves all over the outside of the ripe tomato. I am told this is called vivipary. I would like more information. Thanks
Cherokee County Georgia
Thank you for contacting the Cherokee
County UGA Extension Office and Master Gardeners about vivipary in tomatoes.
Vivipary is the premature sprouting of
seeds inside the fruit and is more likely to happen when abscisic acid (ABA), a
plant hormone that regulates seed dormancy and germination, is reduced.
Vivipary is not uncommon in overripe or very vine-ripe tomatoes and tomatoes
stored in the refrigerator where exposure to cool temperatures and low light are
thought to inhibit ABA. Environmental
conditions such as potassium deficiency and over fertilization with nitrogen are
also thought to influence vivipary. In addition, some types of tomatoes (cultivars) are more
prone to vivipary indicating that genetic factors may play a role. While tomatoes undergoing vivipary may
not be very appealing or tasty, they are safe to eat.
Attached is a link to a brief but interesting blog post from the University of Connecticut’s
extension office, which you may find informative. I’ve also included a
link that provides useful information and instructions about submitting soil
samples to the UGA Cooperative Extension lab. If you have concerns about
possible nutrient deficiencies or excesses for your own garden tomatoes, a soil test would be something to consider.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the
Cherokee County UGA Extension office if we can be of additional service.