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Fruits 101: Definition, Characteristics, and Types

Kenneth is a computer whiz who also enjoys nature and traveling. He likes researching the natural world and sharing his findings.

Do you know what makes a fruit a fruit?

Do you know what makes a fruit a fruit?

What Is a Fruit?

Fruit is the seed-bearing structure of angiosperms or flowering plants. It is a ripened ovary which is a component of a female plant reproductive organ. The female sex cell within the ovary stimulates the egg to ripen. Ripen ovaries may form fleshy, juicy fruits like mango, peach, apple, plum, and berries.

In some cases, it may also develop into dry fruits like acorns, nuts, wheat, rice, and grains. Tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and peppers are oftentimes referred to as vegetables. However, they are actually fruits because they develop from a flower's ovary.

Fruit plays a vital role in humanity. In fact, China, India, Brazil, and the United States are the top producers of fruits, producing over 475 million tons every year. Dry fruits such as wheat, corn, and rice are some of the earliest staple foods worldwide. Some of these dry fruits are processed into bread, beverages, and alcohol.

Ever wonder how fruits are classified?

Ever wonder how fruits are classified?

How Are Fruits Classified?

There have been significant disagreements on how fruits are classified and distinguished according to their differences and characteristics based on a scientific basis.

Some of the fruits that heightened the disagreements are achene and nuts. The concept of a fruit does not rotate only on the seeds but also in the covering of the seed, etc.

Fruits are also distinguished like mammals or binomials in plant species and genera. Now, scientists have come up with several classifications of fruits that are considered universal.

Spermatocarpia

In some cases and studies, scientists compare “naked seeds” and “covered seeds” to their unique identity and differences. Spermatocarpias are often called naked seeds. These fruits have seeds that lack scales, and the external part is fleshy while the internal part is hard. This kind of spermatocarpia is called spermidium.

Some seeds have brightly covering flesh, and these are called arillocarpium. Some spermatocarpia have seeds that are swollen or have receptacle stalks. Some are covered by fleshy and juicy bracts, and some have a cylindrical arrangement of seeds in a cone shape.

These are the four main categories or types of fruit.

These are the four main categories or types of fruit.

The Four Types of Fruits

  1. Simple
  2. Aggregate
  3. Multiple
  4. Accessory
The cucumber is a great example of fleshy fruit.

The cucumber is a great example of fleshy fruit.

1. Simple Fruits

The definition of a simple fruit is that it develops from a single or compound ovary with only one pistil (of a single flower). Simple fruits are either fleshy or dry.

Fleshy Fruits

Fleshy fruits are those fruits in which part or all of the pericarp is fleshy at maturity.

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Types of Fleshy Fruits

  • Berry: It develops from an ovary with one or more carpels. A carpel may contain one or more ovules; that is why berries have plenty of seeds.
  • Drupe: It is a fruit with a thin ovary wall, while the middle is thick and fleshy. It has an edible exocarp and mesocarp and an inedible hard endocarp, which is the inner part. Examples of drupes are mango, cherry, plums, olives, apricots.
  • Hesperdium: These fruits are always covered with a leathery rind, and the partitions separating their carpels are tough and fibrous.
  • Pepo: The pepo is covered by a hard and thick rind. The cucumber, pumpkin, and watermelon are good examples of the pepo type of fruit.
  • Pome: The pome consists of tissue derived from the ovary and the perianth.

Dry Fruits

These are sometimes called dehiscent fruits. Dry fruits are differentiated whether they stay intact at maturity or open to release seeds. There are different kinds of dry fruits. The pericarp in dry fruits is flimsy, relatively thin, and somewhat fused to the seeds in samaras. It becomes bigger by slightly forming one or more wings that aid in seed dispersal.

Dry fruits like maples, ashes, and elms bear beautiful samaras that can be seen twirling slowly in gusts of wind. On the other hand, nuts have a relatively hard and heavy pericarp.

Types of Dry Fruits

  • Legume: It is a dry fruit that splits open along two seams. Many beans fall into this category.
  • Grain: A dry fruit with only one seed, and the seed coat is fused with an inner surface of pericarp like corn.
  • Nuts: It is a dry fruit with only one seed, and its pericarp is thick and hard. Some of these are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns.
  • Capsulate: This is a rarely fleshy dehiscent fruit produced by many species of angiosperms. A great example type of fruit is an orchid.
See the small connected clumps?

See the small connected clumps?

2. Aggregate Fruits

These fruits contain different matured ovaries and are produced by one flower and held by one receptacle. Every pistil’s ovary develops into a small clumped fruit called a fruitlet. Next time you enjoy a raspberry, take a second to examine the fruitlets!

Aggregate Fruit Examples

  • Raspberry
  • Blackberry
If you look closely, you can see the seperate parts of the pineapple.

If you look closely, you can see the seperate parts of the pineapple.

3. Multiple Fruits

These fruits consist of several matured ovaries produced by several flowers in an inflorescence. Multiple fruits have several flowers clustered on stems, although each ovary grows individually.

These fruitlets then form a larger fruit that is called multiple fruit.

Multiple Fruit Examples

  • Pineapples
  • Mulberries
  • Osage Oranges
This pear was formed from a part of the plant other than the ovary.

This pear was formed from a part of the plant other than the ovary.

4. Accessory Fruits

These fruits consist of one or more matured ovaries and other parts of the flower, such as the receptacle. For example, strawberries have an intact stem when harvested. The stems are the receptacle, and the berry is the matured ovary.

Accessory Fruit Examples

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Figs
  • Pears

Sources

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