Tomato, (Solanum lycopersicum), flowering plant of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), cultivated extensively for its edible fruits. Labelled as a vegetable for nutritional purposes, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and the phytochemical lycopene. The fruits are commonly eaten raw in salads, served as a cooked vegetable, used as an ingredient of various prepared dishes, and pickled. Additionally, a large percentage of the world’s tomato crop is used for processing; products include canned tomatoes, tomato juice, ketchup, puree, paste, and “sun-dried” tomatoes or dehydrated pulp.
Tomato plants are generally much branched, spreading 60–180 cm (24–72 inches) and somewhat trailing when fruiting, but a few forms are compact and upright. Leaves are more or less hairy, strongly odorous, pinnately compound, and up to 45 cm (18 inches) long. The five-petaled flowers are yellow, 2 cm (0.8 inch) across, pendant, and clustered. Fruits are berries that vary in diameter from 1.5 to 7.5 cm (0.6 to 3 inches) or more. They are usually red, scarlet, or yellow, though green and purple varieties do exist, and they vary in shape from almost spherical to oval and elongate to pear-shaped. Each fruit contains at least two cells of small seeds surrounded by jellylike pulp.