What is the differenct between a vegetable and a fruit?

I was just reading “how halloween works” on the “how stuff works” web site and in a side-bar they say that the pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable.

So what’s the difference?

http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/may97/862577578.Gb.r.html

Are pineapples fruit? If so, where are the seeds?

Most commercial pineapples are seedless, because the seeds are annoying. Actually, they are self-pollinated, which makes them not develop seeds - if the commercial varieties were allowed to cross pollinate, they would produce seeds. The technical term for this sort of reproduction is “parthenocarpy”, and is used in commercial production of many fruits.

Actually, I should say it’s the technical term for that sort of non-reproduction … propogation of these plants is performed from cuttings and so on. The fruit usually produces no offspring. The pineapple is an exception again, in that it can be propagated from the leafy crown of the seedless fruit.

My rule of thumb is: If you’re eating the part of the plant that originally, or still does, contain the seeds, then its a fruit. Tomato, blueberry, pumpkin, zucchini, orange, string beans,peppers etc. Anything else is a vegetable e.g. broccoli[even though it’s a flowerhead, no seeds have formed] lettuce, rhubarb, onions, carrots, celery. Mushrooms are iffy, but since they contain(ed) spores, I suppose they qualify as a fruit. Mycologically speaking, they are sometimes referred to as fruiting bodies. Perhaps best to leave them in their own netherworld, as most biologists do.

Pineapples, IMS, are called composite fruits, because their individual “srtuctures”[the part we call eyes] have fused together into a solid mass. Just as an aside, every so often I’ll purchase an extremely ripe pineapple, and inside will be a few, small, black seeds. This happens occasionally with bananas, as well. Raspberries, OTOH, are called aggregate fruits, because each one is comprised of separate, unfused parts.

The classification of fruits and vegetables is fascinating, because we find out so many things we thought we knew, aren’t really so. Tomatoes are berries, as are grapes and blueberries, but strawberries are called achenes. Ever notice a strawberry’s seeds are on the outside of the fruit, very rare indeed. Most people know apples and pears are pomes, didja’ know that pumpkins are pepos and ginger is a rhizome.

Startin to get geeky, huh? Guess it’s time to sign off.

Waitaminnit. Broccoli is a flower?!! Man, I knew it was strange, but…

…really, really, really good for ya’. George Bush, the First, notwithstanding.

In the US, according to the Supreme Court decision Nix v Hedden (1893), if you normally eat it with a meal, then it’s a vegetable. If you eat it for dessert, it’s a fruit.

At least as far as import duties are concerned. So for tax purposes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. are considered vegetables.

I’m fond of duck l’orange and lemon chicken. Citrus is a vegetable?

I think the refence was to things other than glazes and garnishes. If you were to eat a duck and an orange, as separate items (i.e. you can get the duck without l’orange and more importantly get the l’orange without the duck), then you might have a point.

But then, one might invoke the modifier normally and make a conclusion about you. :eek: :smiley:

Vegetables are brain damaged, fruits are homosexual. :wink:

Tomatoes are vegetables. After all, they aren’t animals or minerals.

That’s the thing about definitions - they’re largely a matter of rhetoric. Yes, tomatoes are fruit, botanically speaking. They’re fruit compared to things that aren’t fruit, like leaves, or stems, or roots, or flowers. For a biologist, and for anyone looking at them from a biological point of view, tomatoes are definitely fruit. However, if you asked the biologist if a tomatoe was a fruit or a vegetable, he’ll stare at you blankly and then tell you that that’s a false duchtomy. Bilologically speaking, tha’s like asking if a dog is a mammal or a vertibrate - the question makes no sense.

The only person you can ask whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, and expect a straight answer, is a cook. And he or she will tell you that it is, in fact, a vegetable. Why? because it cooks like a vegetable; because it tastes like a vegetable; and because years of tradition call it a vegetable. And the cook would be right.The cook doesn’t care about botanical definitions.

In short, “fruit or vegetable” is a culinary question, not a biological one, and should be answered from a culinary point of view.

What do mushrooms have to do with anything? Fruits and vegetables are categories of plants. Fungii are not plants.

My humble apologies, friedo. Didn’t mean to violate your well-ordered world. I lumped them in because we were talking about fruits and vegetables, things we eat. After being in the produce business for 25 years, they just got included with the rest of the edibles.

Well then where does plankton fit in? :smiley:

It fits in the blue whale’s baleen.

Carrots are officially fruit according to the Eurocrats

(Guess it was worth enough in subsidies or tax breaks to the producers to bribe politicians to change the definition)

Maybe it would be easier to say what fruits are NOT: leafs, shoots, stems, or roots. These all describe vegetables. If it’s not a vegetable (and it’s part of a plant) it is a fruit.

Another definition is that you harvest fruit without killing the plant. Fruits are meant to be eaten. If the plant could speak it would say so. Leaves and roots aren’t. If the plant could speak it would say, "Hey! What do you think you’re doing? HEY! Stop that!!! Ouch, OUCH!!! OUCH!!! STOP IT!!! I’m not kidding!!!

Maybe it would be easier to say what fruits are NOT: leafs, shoots, stems, or roots. These all describe vegetables. If it’s not a vegetable (and it’s part of a plant) it is a fruit.

Another definition is that you harvest fruit without killing the plant. Fruits are meant to be eaten. If the plant could speak it would say so. Leaves and roots aren’t. If the plant could speak it would say, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing? HEY! Stop that!!! Ouch, OUCH!!! OUCH!!! STOP IT!!! I’m not kidding!!!