Fruits and Vegetables

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Wed Oct 8 07:23:35 EST 1997

At 3:34 PM -0400 10/7/97, Mouton Bradley J wrote:
>   We are having a debate on:
>    What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable ??
> Can someone please help me out and give me the answer ASAP.
> Thanks

This question is a matter of perspective...
if you are a nutitionist or a government functionary,
then the water is very murky here.  Items served in
salty fluids are sometimes considered vegetables; those
served in sweet concoctions are considered fruits.

=46rom the botanical perspective the situation is
crystal clear...if it arose from a flower, and contains
a seed (or normally contains a seed) it is a fruit.
In that case, botanically green beans are fruits, as are
tomatoes, green peppers, squash, cucumbers, corn kernels,
snow peas, etc.  The vegetables, from a botanical perspective,
are vegetative organs (stem, leaf, and/or root).  So the
botanical vegetables would include asparagus, lettuce,
cabbage, turnip, carrot, celery, etc.  There are some
"problem children" here, though, such as broccoli and
cauliflower.  The delicacy part of these is flower buds
(neither fruit nor really vegetable...but floral!); of
course if you don't prepare it yourself but buy it as
"cuts" you get mostly stem, so in that case it is mostly

Not every fruit is what you think it is either.  For example
a strawberry fruit is not a is an achene.  The
fruit is the ovary wall and in this case is a tiny hard,
indehiscent, dry fruit.  The soft part of the strawberry is
receptacle tissue (the accessory to the true fruit).  So
a better example of a berry is a tomato or a grape.  Similarly,
a raspberry is not a berry is a cluster of tiny
drupelets each drupelet a fruit in its own right.

Other foods are neither vegetable nor fruit...but actually
a seed.  Good examples include green peas (w/o the pod!),
peanuts (only if you include the redskin!), almonds, and
so on.  If you take the redskin from the peanut before you
eat it, then you are eating just the embryo from the seed.
So your tin-roof sundae is covered with embryos floating in
hot shameless fetus feeder!  ARGH!


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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