Fruits and Vegatables

What distinguishs a vegatable form a fruit? Is a tomato a fruit ot vegatable?

A tomato is a fruit, and a vegetable, but so is a peach; I don’t know why the tomato always gets singled out for surprise about this, as peppers, pumpkins, courgettes(zucchini), peas, beans, aubergines(eggplant), and an assortment of other ‘vegetables’ are also actually fruits.

Botany doesn’t classify things the same way as chefs do - ‘vegetable’ just means it’s a plant - a botanist will call something vegetable even if it’s inedible or deadly poisonous and a botanist will call something a fruit if it’s the seed-bearing structure of a plant, regardless of its culinary use, if any.

If you must kill the plant then it is a vegetable. Otherwise it is a fruit.

That’s not a particularly accurate or helpful summary; spinach and asparagus are vegetables, but you don’t kill the plant when you pick the leaves; not sure if there are any fruits where harvesting entails killing the plants, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

A fruit is the seed vessel of a plant. A vegetable is any other part of a plant, like the root of a carrot plant or lettuce leaves. When a flower is pollinated, a fruit can start growing. This is not like how other types of edible vegetables grow (anything leafy or rooty).

If you cut open a “vegetable”, and seeds are present, you have a fruit.

One thing i never get over is when i pick one of my homegrown tomatoes or peppers, with the dried out flower still stuck to the bottom. Awesome!

Vegetables don’t come directly from flowers, but fruits do. :slight_smile:

[nitpick] It’s vegetable not vegatable. [/nitpick]

for your enjoyment i thought i’d post this enlightening link:

If we concede the fruit point, what’s a “berry”? I once heard that a watermelon is technically a berry.

(Also that a strawberry is the only fruit with its seeds on the outside.)

Yes; a berry is a fleshy capsule, developing from a single ovary, containing multiple seeds; an orange is a berry, as is a banana (well, the wild ones have seeds in them).

And the strawberry thing is just false; maybe it’s the only supermarket fruit of its kind, but there are other plants that produce fruit with seeds on the outside - some anemones, for example.

Bananas produce a terminal inflorescence and as a result harvesting inevitably results in death for that shoot, which is as close to killing the plant as you get in the harvesting of a great many vegetables.

Botanically a berry is any fruit with a fleshy ovary wall concealing one or more seeds. As such cherries and other stonefruit can still be considered berries despite having only on seed.

Not strictly. As others have pointed out there is a world of difference between a culinary and a botanical fruit. Artichokes, cauliflowers and brocolli for example come directly form the flowers, indeed they are the flowers, yet they are indisputably vegetables. Similarly nobody would describe a string bean or baby corn as fruit but they develop directly from the flower

I thought strawberries weren’t, botanically, fruits at all. I’ve been told (here, no less) that they’re simply highly specialized stem tissue.

Strwberries are certainly fruits. You only need to look at one to see the remnants of the flower parts clinging to the base.

In the absolutely strictest sense, I think this is technically correct, but even the strictest definition in the ordinary dictionary is more liberal than that, including ‘accessory parts’.

Hey, about bananas, I got a question.

I once spent what seemed like an endless airplane ride seated next to an egg head scientist who spent the entire ride explaining to me that ‘technically’ a banana was not a fruit at all but a spice. The depth and breadth of his knowledge concerning the lowly banana was indeed humbling, but his communication skills weren’t the greatest. I was interested initially but eventually I was praying for the plane to go down or land I didn’t care which. I always meant to ask someone what the fellow was on about, but how to phrase the question when you’re not sure what you’ve been told?


I’d say he was on about 5mg a day.

Bananas are fruit, there’s no way around that. Banana plants can be used as a spice as well as a source of fibre, clothing, building materials and many other uses, but the banana itself is a fruit.

As for that NCPG page suggesting that a fruit is a developed ovary, I don’t know where they pulled that definition from. I have half a dozen botanical and biological textbooks, dictionaries and other references in front of me and not one of them has that definition. The closest I can find has the rider “together with any adjacent parts that may be fused with it at maturity.”

Why does a recent technical appropriation of a term trump the traditional meaning that has evolved over hundreds of years?

We all understand fruits to be edible, sweet, fleshy, recurring, above-ground growths on plants. That’s the best determination of what fruit “means”, isn’t it? I think it’s dumb of scientists to give a specific and sometimes different meaning to a word that already has a common meaning. Why can’t they call what they are referring to as an ovariapod or something? It only causes confusion.

And why do spectroscopists describe infrared light in inverse centimeters, and make their graphs increase from right to left? It’s just stupid, I say.

Sorry. It’s been sort of a long week.