What Is A Black Ethiopian Tomato: Growing Black Ethiopian Tomato Plants

Tomatoes aren’t just red anymore. (Really, they never were, but now more than ever heirloom varieties in all different colors are finally getting the worldwide recognition they deserve). Black is one criminally underappreciated tomato color, and one of the most satisfying black tomato varieties is the Black Ethiopian. Keep reading to learn more about growing Black Ethiopian tomato plants in the garden.

Black Ethiopian Tomato Info

What is a Black Ethiopian tomato? At first glance, Black Ethiopian might seem like a bit of a misnomer. This tomato variety is sometimes reported as originating in Ukraine, sometimes in Russia, but never Ethiopia. While the tomatoes can achieve a very dark shade, their color is usually more of a burnished red to brown to deep purple. They do have a very dark, rich flavor, however. They have been described as tangy and sweet. The fruits themselves are plum shaped and a little on the small side, usually weighing about 5 ounces (142 g.). The plants are very heavy producers and will put out fruit continuously through the growing season. They usually grow to about 4 to 5 feet (1-1.5 m.) in height. They reach maturity in 70 to 80 days.

Growing Black Ethiopian Tomato Plants

Caring for Black Ethiopian tomatoes is much the same as caring for any indeterminate tomato. The plants are very frost sensitive and should not be planted outdoors until all chance of frost has passed. In frost free areas, they can be grown as perennials, but in all other zones they will probably have to be started indoors before it’s warm enough to transplant them outside. The fruits develop in clusters of about four to six. Their ripe color varies and may range from deep purple to bronze/brown with green shoulders. Taste one or two to get an idea of when they are ready to eat.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.