Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomato

Matt's Wild Cherry

Matt’s Wild Cherry image from Johnny’s Select Seeds.

Permaculturalist Paul Wheaton was in our neck of the woods this weekend to give a couple of lectures. In his talk on “Irrigation Free Foodscapes” he mentioned a variety of tomato called “Matt’s Wild Cherry” that, as the name implies, is a wild-type tomato that grows without supplemental irrigation.

Many avid vegetable gardeners have probably had the experience of tomatoes that reseed and grow without care. In my experience these hardy rogue tomatoes are invariably on the cherry side of the tomato size spectrum. This makes sense as the tomato’s wild ancestor is much smaller than modern beefsteak varieties.

Matt’s Wild Cherry was obtained in Hidalgo, Mexico by Teresa Arellanos de Mena, a friend of  agronomy professors, Dr. Laura Merrick and Dr. Matt Liebman. Johnny’s and other sources describe it as a small current sized tomato that readily reseeds.

Johnny’s Select Seeds carries it, and I’m considering giving it a try to supplement the tomatoes that reseed themselves in our garden. Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried Matt’s Wild Cherry or have tried any other wild-type tomatoes.

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  1. Thanks for the information about the origin of Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato. We first planted this tomato four or five years ago, and it does readily reseed and grow like gangbusters, at least in the Midwest, where we live. The tomatoes are grape-size and delicious–very flavorful and sweet. Kids love them. They don’t cook up well (too seedy), but are great for salads and eating out of hand. The vines can get very long (we’ve seen them grow 12 feet up into a tree), so plan accordingly.

  2. I love Matt’s Wild Cherry. It grows tall and leggy and COVERED with tiny, thumbnail sized fruit that are sweet and crisp and fantastic. I’m in Zone 5b Western Massachusetts, and it does great here, self-seeding freely. Enjoy!

  3. I’ve got a friend working with others in Oregon grafting new varieties onto old tomato root. I know one plant company is now selling them. I wonder if this is the plant they use. I had not realized that tomatoes originally came from low water areas, almost deserts. I did check my plant from last Spring the other day. It’s hanging in there, barely. I’m wondering whether cutting it back will give it new life, or letting the tomatoes on it currently ripen, then planting new.

  4. We’ve grown them both here in central NY and in western NC. We’ve stopped because they split so readily that they just didn’t seem worth it any longer.

  5. This looks a lot like the wild tomatoes that grow in Hawai’i. Some think they are native, others think they were an early introduction from South America. Near as I can tell, they are Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium (USDA listing at I’ve grown them in Virginia and Washington State. They’d rather have a long hot season, but do well in both places. In Hawai’i, they’d crawl 30 feet, and they do well on fences and rambling through other plants.

  6. We’ve planted this variety for several years as well and it’s our favorite cherry tomato, fantastic production and deliciously sweet flavor. They also are great as sun-dried tomatoes too, our favorite for sure.

  7. I first planted these about three years ago, and they’ve reseeded each year — all over the garden. When other varieties succumb to drought, fungus or disease, Matt’s Wild Cherry thrives. I’m on the East Coast, in Maryland.

  8. I have just seeded these tomatoes to grow this season. I’m in Pensacola, zone 8b on the Gulf Coast. We have such a long hot summer that tomatoes do not fare well. I’m hoping this tomato will be fabulous for us! I also bought mine from Johnny’s Seeds. Put in your order because their ship time is a bit long. 🙂

  9. I live in the dry South Central Texas area and have been growing these year round for 5 or more years. In the fall some sprout up from last years dropping and in a southern exposure they grow all winter without watering and right now in March we are eating fresh tomatoes and these will keep producing till we decide to cut them down as they do thrive during our heat and dry summer with an occasional shower or watering. We clip the whole bunch as picking each will tear the skins. They keep well if left on the vine or picked ripe.

  10. We grew it as a container plant last year (South/Central Texas, zone 8b). It was hardy & prolific, fruited all Summer, with a great taste. On the other hand, it was not easy to pick by hand – often the skin would stick to the stem and partially peel off – and seemed like a lot of labor for a small handful of fruits. More often than not, I’d just grab a few as they ripened and chuck them to the chickens.

    We did have a “volunteer” cherry-type tomato grow in our compost pile last year. We transplanted to a raised bed on a lark, and it took over. Massive vines, large fruits for cherry-style, and tasty. It continued to fruit even in the blazing Texas heat. We saved seed, and will grow again this year. If it grows true to form, we’ll start saving and distributing to locals.

  11. The yellow cherry size Wild Galapagos Island Tomato re-seeds itself every year in my garden. In fact, it has become almost like a pest because it comes up everywhere. And somehow the seeds even traveled from my front yard to the back yard. It is a prolific producer that grows to a huge vine that needs no supplemental water. The fruit is very sweet and delicious!

  12. We grew this variety a couple years ago here in Maryland. The tomatoes were great, but we made the mistake of growing it on the same trellis system as our regular tomatoes, where it took over. If we grow them again, it’ll be in a different part of the yard entirely!
    We had a similar experience with a Maryland variety called Tess’s Land Race Currant Tomato. Both Matt’s and Tess’s have great flavor for such a tiny fruit.

  13. very nice tomato.Very productive and sweet and complex berry like. pinch the ends at six feet and it bushes out and stays pretty tame. My favorite tomato!

  14. I got these for a community garden I volunteered to do about 10 years ago. They reseed like crazy they cross pollinate with other varieties and you get some odd things like tiny roma tomatoes etc. I took a bowl of them that rotted and threw them in my compose that long ago then used that compost in my potted plants and had them coming up in the pots for years but when I moved to our land a few years ago I planted them and they have migrated. Personally I think it’s awesome and I’m going to encourage them to grow along tree lines wild.

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