We moved to a new property and in the old orchard we found a huge patch of potato plants. The foliage looks to me exactly like normal potato leaves and they are producing large potato looking tubers right now. Now here is my question. I am aware that if I plant a tuber, I get a clone of the mother plant, and thats how I have always intentionally grown my own potatoes before. But this patch had been abandoned for a while, so a couple of the plants in there were probably seeded from potato fruits. As the potato is a nightshade, could it have cross pollinated with some other nightshade resulting in plants with poisonous tubers? I know this might seem like a silly question, but I’m a physician and I don’t want to poison my family because we ate potatoes we didn’t plant. And when I tried to google the subject I only end up with green potato & solamine results. Thanks you so much!
Thank you for submitting this interesting question to Toronto Master Gardeners.
The potatoes in your field should be safe to eat.
Some of the current potato plants are likely from potato tubers produced from last growing season which have somehow survived the winter. Other potato plants could be from seeds produced earlier.
The flowers on potato plants are mostly self-fertilized. There is no cross-fertilization with other members of nightshade family. What is of note is that after self-fertilization, the resultant fruit may not always bear viable seeds. For seeds that are viable, they do not usually come true to their parents. That would mean you may find a variety of potatoes in your field.
Hope this helps!