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TOMATO FLOWERS

Tomato flower showing grown-together stamens and future tomato

One of the most unusual features of the tomato blossom, very different from our Standard Blossom, is this: its anthers are grown together along their edges, forming a column surrounding the pistil's style.

In the center of the above picture you can see a tomato flower. At the picture's far left are three grown-together stamens removed from the flower so you can see how the anthers are grown together along their margins. However, the stubby filaments supporting them are separated.

At the picture's bottom-right corner you see the flower's pistil. The vertical, slender item is the pistil's style, atop which the stigma is so small you can't see it well. The roundish thing at the style's base is the ovary, which of course is the future fruit -- the tomato. In the flower in the center of the picture you can see how the style barely peeps above the tops of the grown-together anther tube.

Also notice how the anther tops project into sharp, narrow tips that sometimes curl back. I'm not sure why tomato-flower anthers do this, but they do. It's just something that makes them unusual.

Once the flower is pollinated, the little ovary will begin growing like crazy. The anther-cylinder around it and the bright petals will dry up, shrivel and fall away. However the sepals will remain and eventually the ovary will be a magnificent tomato.

If you have tomato plants in your garden you might enjoy marking a particular flower someway, as with a ribbon or a piece of tape, and watching its progress day by day from blossom to tomato on your table.

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