Berries: Exposed!

It’s 10 PM. Do you know who your berries are?

For my first ever blog post, I was going to write about some of my favorite berries because it’s berry season! (Yay for early summer, the otherwise most irritating season due to heat waves and forced interaction with people I don’t really know at outdoor events). However, as I was looking up specific times for when specific berries are in season, I saw that there are a lot of fruits pretending to be berries, and there are a lot of fruits who you wouldn’t think are berries but totally are. So, this post is now going to be dedicated to getting definitions of fruits sorted out.

I’m sure everyone knows by now that a tomato is actually a fruit. Tomatoes are actually the initial inspiration for this article because I had some really nice tomatoes recently. Literally the sweetest things, good tomatoes can be so amazing. Anyway, yes, people know tomatoes are fruits, but why is that? Again, relatively common knowledge, a tomato has seeds in it, so it is a fruit. The difference between a fruit and a vegetable is that a fruit is a structure that holds the seeds (developed from the ovary of the flowering plant) while a vegetable is basically everything else, such as the root, stem, or leaf of the plant. So, tomatoes by this definition are clearly fruits. But did you know that a tomato is more accurately a berry?

A true berry is a fruit that comes from one flower with one ovary. That’s what specifically makes a tomato a berry. Guess what else are berries by this definition? Watermelons, pumpkins, grapes, and bananas. That’s right, bananas. My sister was so mad at me when I told her this, and she still refuses to accept this newfound knowledge. I, however, am easily persuaded because I am not a botanist, so I will accept this information willingly. So, now that you know a banana is a berry, want to know what isn’t a berry? Blackberries and strawberries. Yup.

A blackberry can’t be a berry because it’s made of a bunch of ovaries, each surrounding one seed, all bunched together. The definition of a berry says it’s gotta be one ovary, so that’s ruled out. I’ve seen blackberries and raspberries called aggregate fruits, or druplets for short hand, because that’s what they look like. They’re called little druplets instead of one whole fruit. A strawberry has always been my favorite thing to explain to people. D0 you know about all the seeds on the outside of a strawberry? Those aren’t really seeds,  but little inactivated fruits. The deliciously tangy and sweet red part of a strawberry is actually a stem growing around all these little fruits. They also don’t grow from the flower of their plant. So, people call a strawberry an accessory fruit, not a berry.

Figuring out what an avocado was was annoying. I initially thought an avocado was a drupe because a drupe is basically a berry but with one stony endocarp surrounding the seed, like a peach, mango, or coconut. So here I was, all content with the idea that avocados were probably drupes until I looked it up and BAM, they’re true berries. So I guess the difference is botanists are saying that the rind, or exocarp, is fleshy enough and the endocarp is soft enough to be counted as a berry and not a drupe. This is fair, I guess, because the actual avocado seed is that big pit in the center, so it is surrounded by the fleshy stuff you actually eat. This is as opposed to a peach, which has that stone in the center covering the actual seed.

So, there it is. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries: all lies. You can go spoil all your family and friends’ excitement over summer berries this fine summer season. You want a REAL berry? Hit up an avocado or a tomato, they’ll show you REAL berries.


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