It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Time for Tomatoes

(Hoefnagel, Nature Illuminated, plate 102)

Tomatoes originate in the Andes in South America, where they grow wild  in what is now Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador. They were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD. Following the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés in 1519, tomatoes were introduced into Spain
The earliest record of the Plate de Haiti Tomatoe is a botanical drawing in Kondrad Gessner’s Historia Plantarum (1561). Joris Hoefnagel’s tomato illustration is from around 1590 and certainly also one of the earliest ones (note the similarity with the present day heiloom tomatoes). 
Tomato is short-lived perennial in tropical regions and an annual in temperate climates. There are presently over 1000 different varieties of tomatoes. 
In 1893 tomato was debated in the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Horace Gray finally stated that tomato legally was a vegetable even though botanically speaking it is a berry, link

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