Love Apple Farms: Morelle de Balbis, also known as the Litchi Tomato

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Sandi Thompson

Eventually I will have lots of litchi tomatoes. They are extremely prolific. Do you have a recipe whereby I may feature them?

Love Apple Farm

Shelly: They're not toxic to animals. Even if they were, the animal would most likely leave it alone due to all those crazy thorns everywhere!

Sarah: You need several of these plants in somewhat close proximity in order to act as pollinators for each other. You may not be getting any fruit because they are spaced too far apart or you only have one plant.


Hi, I bought some morelle de balbis seeds and planted them, everything is going fine, except that the fruit doesn't seem to be setting. I live in southern California. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.


I believe this is what I have found this season in my western Oregon garden, there are several. I have never seen them before, so they have come from the birds, I guess. How can I get them positively identified and are they toxic to my animals? I have a crazy cat that eats all my plants!

Menze Wouda

Hi there,
I have some of these in my veg/fruitgarden and they really are scary. The 'tomatoes' aren't ripe yet, but I'm curious what they taste like.

Rodney Stagg

I just found these growing wild in my pasture on Kauai, I grew up in
Santa Cruz so I had to say aloha!
R Stagg


I have one flowering in my Spanish garden, I am really looking forward to tasting the fruits! Thanks for all the information

Love Apple Farms

Craig: My educated guess would be that it would be deer resistant (realize, though, that a really hungry deer will eat even so called deer "resistant" plants). Also, the Morelle de Balbis is an annual, so you will not get year 'round decorative beauty out of these. They are pretty impressive for a couple of months in mid to late summer, though.

Craig Ott

Does anyone know if these thorny plants are eaten by deer? I have to fence them out of my vegetable garden but would like to try this plant in front of my house.

Merridue Coast

absolutely divine :) love those plants!!
love you


I'm glad you chose one of our photos. I think its a plant you plant once in your lifetime... never again.Good luck for the harvest.If you have chain mail gloves you can perhaps make a good pie.

Diana Chapman

Hi Cynthia,

I wish I could post the pictures of the incredable harvest I am having this summer. I took your summer gardening class and followed each of your suggestions. I'm having a blast and enjoying the delicious produce. Can't wait now to take the winter gardening class.

And my tomatoes are huge, loaded with fruit, never had I had such success. Cheers to those fishheads!

Thanks again for sharing all of your wisdom.



Good news from the next-door neighbor: he had a ripe fruit, and pronounced it "fantastic." Thank you for the plants you gave us to give him a birthday gift. He's the best neighbor, and our gardens are a mutual joy for each other to visit.

XOX from Soquel. I'm coming up there SOON with Rebecca and Jasmine: farmer friends who love your work.


I'm sold. I'd love to try one next year. I assume I'd harvest them the same as cactus for nopales--welding gloves and needle-nosed pliers. Going barefoot in that area of the garden would definitely be out as well, but they look like they'd be worth it. They look like they might be sweeter than ground cherries, and larger too.

Prema Rachel

I remember my Grandfather used to plant this solanum every few rows of potato's, much as one would plant geraniums with roses. If I remember correctly his theory was that the Litchi Tomato would attract roundworms away from the potato's. He swore that was why he never lost potato's to roundworms (which as potato growers know can be quite devastating to potato's) I don't remember ever eating the little tomato's though.
I guess he was strictly a meat and potato's kind of man. :-)

xxx Prema

Jan C.

I have been looking for a thorny barrier plant. This one could do the job for summertime.


Hi Cynthia,
I bought one of these plants from you at your seedling sale. Mine's about 5' now, and covered with blossoms, although it seems to not want to set fruit, or it is extremely slow to do so in my garden (I'm zone 9 in Lodi). The spikes are ferocious and will poke you through jeans. I look forward to some ripe fruit, though it'll have to be harvested using welding gloves!

Risa D'Angeles

Hi, Cynthia - it's Risa (astrologer in Good Times). You have a beautiful website. Alexis says hello! We're traveling, looking at communities, gardens and hydroponics. See you at your tomato stand later in the summer! Love, Risa


Our plant has fruit setting, though none ripe yet, and the plant you gave me to give my neighbor is about SIX FEET TALL.

Yesterday morning, some people walking on the trail by our yard stopped to comment how beautiful our garden is. We got chatting, and one of the women came over to look. She asked, "What on earth is that weird-looking plant?!" so I got to tell her the whole story. And told her about your classes, your farm, and your farmstand.

Like I always do!

XOX from foggy Soquel.

Keith Winkelman

I had heard of Litchi Tomatoes but agree that Morelle de Balbis is a much more elegant moniker. Always the experimenter, I'm hopeful that there are some seeds available this winter so we can try it out next spring - though we'll have to be sure and set them where we wont get impaled. I'll also have to remember to use the rhino hide gloves - something I rarely do when working in the garden. Part of my love of gardening is feeling my fingers in the dirt and on the plant but I can see that I'll have to forego that pleasure with this little prickler! Thanks for sharing this one with us.


That is one scary looking plant! But with a name like Litchi Tomato, I'm sold--if it tastes anything like a litchi (or the cherry they claim), I would totally love one of those babies. Now, the only problem would be how to grow them and make sure my kiddos don't get near enough to get hurt!

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