Why were tomatoes often called “love apples” and considered aphrodisiacs?

Plant Uses Read more from
Chapter Plant Structure, Function, and Use

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family; they were cultivated in Peru and introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers. Tomatoes were introduced to Italy from Morocco, so the Italian name for the fruit was pomi de Mori, (meaning “apples of the Moors”). The French called the tomato pommes d’amore, (meaning “apples of love”). This latter name may have referred to the fact that tomatoes were thought to have aphrodisiac powers, or it may have been a corruption of the Italian name. When tomato plants were first introduced to Europe, many people viewed them with suspicion, since poisonous members of the nightshade family were commonly known. Although the tomato is neither poisonous nor an aphrodisiac, it took centuries for it to fully overcome its undeserved reputation.


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