The tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum, syn. Solanum lycopersicum) is an herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are its close cousins tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant. The tomato is native to Central, South, and southern North America from Mexico to Argentina. Evidence supports the theory that the first domesticated tomato was a little yellow fruit, ancestor of L. cerasiforme, grown by the Aztecs in Mexico who called it ‘xitomatl’ (pronounced zee-toe-má-tel), meaning plump thing with a navel. It is a perennial, often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual, typically reaching to 1-3m (3 to 10 ft) in height, with a weak, woody stem that often vines over other plants. The leaves are 10–25 cm long, odd pinnate, with 5–9 leaflets on petioles[1], each leaflet up to 8cm long, with a serrated margin; both the stem and leaves are densely glandular-hairy. The flowers are 1–2cm across, yellow, with five pointed lobes on the corolla; they are borne in a cyme of 3–12 together. The word tomato derives from a word in the Nahuatl language, tomatl. The specific name, lycopersicum, means "wolf-peach" (compare the related species Solanum lycocarpum, whose scientific name means "wolf-fruit", common name "wolf-apple"), as they are a major food of wild canids in South America.

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