why are fruits round

John R. Porter porter at SHRSYS.HSLC.ORG
Tue Nov 26 17:12:51 EST 1996

Janice M. Glime wrote:
>   Is the term fruit in this question being restricted to those fruits that
> are eaten by mammals and birds, or does it include all the dry fruits that
> are more likely to be gnawed on by insects?  I still am not convinced the
> basic premise is true.
> Janice

I had assumed that all fruits were up for grabs on this one, so I also suspect that the 
basic premise is not true (winged samaras in maples, elms, tree-of-heaven; elongate 
caryopses in the grains; buried or exposed long pods in the legumes (Fabaceae), 
Violaceae, Oxalidaceae, Apocynaceae, etc.; a variety of odd shapes, including round, in 
the Cucurbitaceae).  I have repeatedly thought of two fruits which roughly fit the 
description of "round" or ovoid in general shape, but clearly depart from simple "round." 
 These are the 1) star fruit (Carambola) available in the exotic fruit trade, which is  
five-carpellate in design and each carpel is a fleshy, broad wing at maturity.  In cross 
section the fruit is star shaped.  The second fruit, again generally "round" or ovoid, is 
the jack fruit (Artocarpus, Moraceae), some of which are decidedly spiny and seem to be 
built to discourage all but the right seed dispersal animal (which is now extinct because 
there are no large herbivores in the South American jungles where this grows).
John R. Porter
porter at shrsys.hslc.org

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