I recently found several small, round, green objects resembling miniature tomatoes on my potato plants. What are they?
The small, round, green objects are the true fruit of the potato plant. While potato plants may bloom heavily in late spring, most of the flowers dry up and drop from the plant and don’t develop into fruit. The fruit that do develop are relatively small and inconspicuous and often go unnoticed by most gardeners. The variety ‘Yukon Gold’ fruits more heavily than most other potato varieties.
Potato fruit are not the result of cross-pollination of tomatoes with potatoes. Tomatoes and potatoes belong to the Solanaceae or Nightshade Family. Plants within a family share certain characteristics. The flowers on tomatoes and potatoes are similar. The shape of the fruit are also similar. While similar in shape, potato fruit are much smaller than those on tomatoes.
Potato fruit are of no real value. The small fruit should not be eaten as they contain a poisonous alkaloid (solanine). The fruit are not useful for planting purposes as potatoes don’t reproduce true from seed.