Doubters come laughing, but they leave scratching their heads. And Billy Williams is every bit as puzzled as the gawkers.
What’s the fuss? He has tomatoes growing on potato plants.
“I thought it was a little goofy,” he said, when he saw both yellow and white flowers on a few of the potato plants, but he didn’t think much about it until he saw tomatoes growing from those yellow blooms.
That’s when he dug down into the dirt and also found a healthy crop of potatoes down below.
“I thought there had to be a tomato plant down there,” Williams said, but there was nothing but potatoes.
He cut open a tomato and found an ordinary piece of fruit with seeds just like any tomato.
“Lots of people have looked and they can’t believe it,” he said. “I probably had 30 people over here and nobody’s seen anything like this. Nature never fails to amaze us.”
It’s baffled a lot of experienced gardeners who laughed until they came to look for themselves. Williams watched his aunt dig down. She thought there must have been an explanation down below the surface.
Maybe he grew tomatoes in that area last season. No, that’s not the case. And besides, these are cherry tomatoes and he grows a regular size crop.
Did he buy the potato seed somewhere? No, that’s not it either. Had he bought the seed somewhere, he would have suspected some genetic modification, but he cut up the Yukon Gold potatoes himself.
“I planted them just like my grandpa and dad taught me,” he said.
Among all of his potato plants, five are showing the—what do you call it, Williams wonders, a topato?
Williams did a little searching on the internet to see if could find other occurrences of the mystery, but he didn’t come up with much more than dinner ideas.
A bulletin from Iowa State University mentions tomato-like fruit on potato plants. Normally, it says, potato flowers dry up and fall off plants, but occasionally they produce fruit—a fruit that’s of no value to the gardener.
That seems to explain his strange produce, but what about the yellow flowers?
Williams isn’t sure if he wants to eat any of his topatoes—a wise move since they’re said to be high in solanine, a poisonous alkaloid found in potatoes, tomatoes and all members of the nightshade family—but there’s one other thing weighing on his mind.
“If I dig down underneath my tomatoes and find potatoes growing, I’m moving out of here.”