What's a Berry?
There is a lot we think we know about fruit and much of it is biologically incorrect; for example, strawberries and raspberries are not berries. Many people will know that some things we call vegetables for culinary purposes, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, are fruit. Here are some other misconceptions explained that you may find useful next time you are in a quiz team.
What is a Fruit
A fruit develops from the fertilised ovary of a flower and contains the seed/s of the plant. Therefore ‘vegetables’ such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, peppers, corn, aubergine and squash are all fruits.
Fruits can be fleshy like cucumbers and peaches, or they can be dry like peanuts and sunflower seed outer shells. Some fruits will have one seed like avocado and cherry and some will contain many seeds like a tomato and watermelon.
Most fruits are simple fruits – they develop from a single flower e.g. apples, pears, tomatoes, nectarines, cherries.
Some fruit are aggregate fruits – they develop from one flower but produce many small fruits clustered together e.g. raspberries and boysenberries. Each small fruit contains a seed. Strawberries are also aggregate fruit, but the delicious fleshy part is not the fruit; the flesh develops from the flower receptacle and not the ovary, it is the seeds on the outside that are the fruits!
Some fruit are multiple fruits – these fruits form closely together from many flowers to form a larger merged fruit e.g. pineapples and jackfruit.
Major Fruit Types
- Berry – A fleshy fruit with many seeds inside. Examples include citrus, kiwifruit, tomatoes, watermelon, passion fruit, bananas, grapes and cucurbits.
- Grain (caryopsis) – A dry fruit with a thin wall attached to the seed. Examples include grass seeds, wheat, oats, rice, corn and millet.
- Drupe – A fleshy fruit with a hard pit inside. The pit contains the seed. Examples include peach, apricot, olive, plum and mango. Note that raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries are aggregate drupes and mulberries are multiple drupes.
- Legume – A dry fruit that is long and narrow containing several seeds in a line. Examples include beans, peas and peanuts.
- Achene - A small, dry fruit with a thin, close-fitting wall around a single seed. Examples include strawberries (the seeds on the outside of the flesh) and sunflower.
- Nut – A dry fruit with a thick shell around a single seed. Examples include chestnuts, hazelnuts and beechnuts. Things that are not nuts include Brazil nuts, which are seeds, and almonds, coconuts, walnuts, macadamia, which are the pits drupes.
There are other fruit types and divisions.
Good luck with your next quiz night. Remember, strawberries are not berries and the flesh is not the fruit, the seeds on the outside are aggregate dry fruits. And raspberries are aggregate drupes.