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The Purple Ukranian scandal! (tomato related!)

Or is it? My query is whether what I'm growing is actually what the seed packet states it is. I got some seeds of "Ukranian Purple" (also known as Russian purple) who's image was the same as seems to come up 99% of the time when looking for this variety, decent sized pinky/purple egg shaped plum tomatoes..


I purchased it from what I believe is a legit seller (not the site above, used as example) and my other seeds from them are true to type, however I'm not so sure about what I have, as with my other varieties I'm still at the green tomato stage (bar yellow pear which are yellowing) but their shape doesn't seem to match up, here's a couple of photos...


So some seem elongated, but the biggest, especially the huge one the size of my hand, is certainly not the sort of shape appearing on photos.


Clearly waiting to see how it colours up will help, but just wondering if these are odd shaped fruits of the right variety, or if I'm growing something else here haha.



  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    The one in your hand in the link that works doesn't look plum-shaped. The one behind it looks like it might be. Can you post another photo showing a couple of the fruit in profile?

  • the other two links should work if you copy the text and paste it, I put them on the thread in the same manner but for some reason only the bottom one becomes a hyperlink, but they all seem to work if the address is copied into the search bar.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    Couldn't copy the addresses in this Chrome browser, they spread outside the dialogue box. Tried it in Firefox, it worked. 

    The larger ones look a bit too big for the Ukrainian Purple that I know. Looking more like Ox-hearts without the ribbing. The smaller ones seem to be about right and the right shape. The bigger ones could be oddities or it could be a crossed seed. You'll have to wait till they colour up. Please report back, I'd love to know.

  • Haha cheers will do, would removing that huge split one to ripen inside (more quickly possibly?) be an idea or you think best to leave it on the plant?

    I have 3 plants of this variety growing, all seem to have a mixture of larger and oval ones, albeit all are in the situation where the rounded tomatoes are significantly bigger than the oval ones, I wasn't paying that much attention at first so I'll watch to see if the oval ones are becoming rounded once they hit a certain size.

    By the way it can't be due to cross pollination from this generation of plants can it? As in my moneymaker crossing with them? As I understand it if two plants cross pollinate the fruit produced from this generation should still look like the parent plant (so ukranian purple) and only the plants grown from seed will be a hybrid?

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,065

    That's correct Joe, only plants grown from saved crossed seeds can have different fruit, cross-pollination will not affect the fruit on the existing plants.  I'm also growing 'purple ukraine' from realseeds (I highly recommend that company.)  Grew them last year too and they look exactly like the photos (about half way down this page):

    Delicious, especially for cooking. image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • so no odd shaped ones eh Bob?

    How large would you say yours get to, is my rounded example larger than their expected ultimate size? (I wouldn't say I have big hands, but it is pretty much the size of my whole hand around it, better comparison would probably be weight, I'll see what it weighs when It colours whatever colour)


    by the way, I'm not so familiar with how different hybrids can behave, is it at all possible for a hybrid of ukranian purple and mystery tomato variety to produce differing tomatoes on the same plant? As in some turn out Ukranian purple, some turn out more like the other parent, on the same truss? Or would you expect some sort of middle ground plant. If these turn pinky/purple I suppose it could be a hybrid, if they come out red I'll be suspicious about it being a totally different variety.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    Joe, they should be a distinct plum shape as per Bob's link. The smaller ones on your plant look to be heading in the right direction. The bigger ones aren't looking plum-shaped, they're more heart-shaped. 

    That split will gradually open and expose the fruit to insects, infection, etc. It's all right for the moment but take it inside as soon as you see it opening. You'll need to keep an eye on it inside too.

    Commercial hybrid varieties have been well and truly stabilised (the gene pool set to produce identically) before they're released to the public. It's very rare, though not impossible, to have glitches. 

    In short, you cross your selected varieties with some sort of goal in mind. The first generation of saved seed will produce an assortment of versions of the parents. You save seed only from the fruits that seem to be heading towards your goal - colour, shape, size, whatever. With each successive generation you, again, only save seeds from fruit heading towards your goal. Eventually, you end up with the fruit you want.

    Depending how any parent varieties are involved, it can take a number of years to stabilise them, although commercial operations develop them on a large scale so they can hasten the process. It can be a slow, painstaking process for the home gardener with limited growing space and restricted to one season a year.

    In fact, when I lived in Sydney, tomato-growing friends and I were in touch with several growers in the US who were hybridising. They used to send us seeds to grow out in our SH season, thus giving them two seasons a year, theirs and ours. They would tell us their goal, we would save seeds from the resulting fruit (that matched their goal) and send the seeds back for them to use for the next generation.

    Perversely, some of the US growers, fanatics, were even trying to dehybridise varieties, getting back to the original parent varieties. An almighty challenge because you have no idea where you're going beyond suspicions and hunches. Made all the harder by the commercial operations, the original hybridisers, guarding the names of their parent varieties fiercely.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    While a hybrid's gene pool is (usually) very stable, heirlooms' pure gene pools can be volatile.

    This is Cherokee Purple:


    Years ago in the US, a grower by the name of Craig LeHoullier, a legend amongst heirloom growers, discovered a fruit on his CP plant that was more a mahogany brown colour. Apparently a spontaneous mutation of a colour gene.

    He saved seeds, planted them out, and selected only those resulting toms that exhibited the brown colour. Ditto the following seasons until, eventually, he stabilised what became known as Cherokee Chocolate:


    Some people find that, for taste and texture, it's essentially the same tom with a different coloured skin. I don't think so. I like CC a lot, but find CP has more taste complexity. And is a better producer. I highly recommend CP to anyone and everyone. Doesn't need a long growing season, doesn't take up a lot of space, is a good producer and delicious.

    While stabilised, Cherokee Chocolate can still throw up some genetic quirks. Lo and behold, a green-when-ripe fruit turned up on a CC plant. Seeds saved, grown out over successive seasons, stabilised, and Cherokee Green came into existence:


    One of the best green-when-ripe toms I've tasted.

    Who knows what else CC has in store? Tomatoes and their genes!

  • hmm the tomato has three splits now, not any deeper but clearly worsening, is it best to remove it and put it inside, maybe enclosed with a banana to encourage it to ripen? (btw is this opened banana skins or will whole unpeeled bananas have an effect?)

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    Take it inside, Joe, you're only risking infection. The banana theory is popular, based on the banana producing ethylene gas that will hasten the ripening of the tom. It's the gas the suppliers use to ripen green supermarket toms in a hurry. It ripens them in terms of turning them red but it doesn't mature them, hence supermarket toms being red but immature inside. Toms produce enough of their own ethylene, let it ripen at its own pace, on the inside and outside.

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