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Indigo Rose, the First Antioxidant-Rich Purple Tomato, Gets Its Hybrid

The first anti-oxidant rich purple tomato gets its hybrid.

Shipra Singh
Purple tomato
Purple tomato

Ten years ago, Jim Myers, a prominent vegetable breeder and professor at the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, developed Indigo Rose, which is the first antioxidant-rich purple tomato. Now, Oregon State University (OSU) has developed Midnight Roma, a cross between Oregon Star and Indigo Rose.  

Oregon Star is a huge fleshy tomato excellent for paste or slicing. It features high flavor. Indigo Rose is a dark purple tomato loaded with anthocyanins, which is the same antioxidant present in blueberries.  

Both tomato hybrids are developed in OSU. 

According to Jim Myers, "we were selecting for a really dark indigo-type processing tomato. Ultimately, we got a really nice one. Anybody into home canning would be interested. Chefs like  it for making sauces." 

While developing Midnight Roma, Myers focused on disease resistance and flavor. The idea was to create a tomato that tastes better than other paste tomatoes.  

OSU developed antioxidant-rich purple tomato (Source: OSU)
OSU developed antioxidant-rich purple tomato (Source: OSU)

Features of Midnight Roma  

  • Midnight Roma is resistant to verticillium wilt. 

  • This is a semi-determinate variety, which means the fruits (tomatoes) ripen together at the same time, making it a great variety for preservation. 

  • The purple skin of tomatoes is rich in anthocyanins. So ,if you want to reap the benefits of these antioxidants, you must cook it without peeling and the processing should also be done by including tomato skin. 

  • Midnight Roma darkens in a manner similar to Indigo Rose. Sunlight is crucial for making the skin purple. Myers suggest using a trellis and pruning extra leaves to let maximum amount of sunlight to reach tomato skin. 

purple tomato slice
purple tomato slice

About Midnight Roma's parent - Indigo Rose  

When Indigo Rose was introduced in the market in 2011, it caused waves. People were already aware of the marvelous health benefits of antioxidants and the release of an antioxidant-rich purple tomato was the best thing to happen then. There was no tomato like this in the market.  

The tomato, when ripe, turns from shiny blue-purple to dull purple brown and its bottom changes from green to red.  

One of the parents of the first purple tomato, Indigo Rose, was an experimental variety that possessed wild tomato genes. It was discovered by a then OSU graduate student who had the task to examine a special collection of plants at the University of California, Davis, which is a part of the USDA's National Plant Germplasm System.  

Today, Indigo Rose is utilized to create additional lines of such antioxidant-rich tomatoes.  

Also know about 26 varieties of native tomato by an agriculturist in Bengaluru, India.  

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