Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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What is "Vivipary"?

Ever sliced into a beautiful red tomato to find the seeds sprouting? Or had a tomato sitting on the counter and suddenly sprouts begin growing from the sides of the fruit? No, it’s not something from the Alien movie.It’s from the movie ‘Vivipary’.

Okay, there’s no such movie.But when the seeds sprout from inside a tomato or other fruits, they look like little wiggly green or white things. This physiological disorder is known as vivipary. It occurs in overripe fruit when seeds have reached maturity and the natural hormone, abscisic acid (ABA), is reduced. Then, seed dormancy is lost gradually. The tomato fruit allows vivipary since the seeds do not desiccate (dry out) in the moist environment inside the fruit. Some causes of seeds sprouting in tomatoes are long storage in cool temperatures (below 55 degrees), being overripe, potassium deficiency, over fertilization with nitrogen, drought, water stress, and again, being overripe, the predominant cause of vivipary.

And yes, even though it may look gross and alien-like, the fruit is still edible.


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