Thursday, March 22, 2012

What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?


Vegetable normally refers to the leafy green, stem, root or even flower stalk portion of an edible plant. It is a generic term and used interchangeably!

Fruit on the other hand are specific, they are the swollen (normally, but not always ripe) ovary of a plant and contain seeds.

A fruit is a ripened ovary, enclosing the seeds which are the mature ovules. They can arise from a single carpel, or several carpels fused together, or separate carpels.
Some fruit which we eat such as bananas do in fact have seeds in them, although the seeds never mature and banana plants very rarely grow from a banana. Other fruit though, such as apples, pears, avocado etc. do produce viable seed which can produce a new plant if collected, planted and germinated.

Examples of vegetables include:

carrot, potato, lettuce, cabbage, cellery, brocolli, cauliflower

Examples of fruit include:

peach, pear, cherry, orange, apple, banana, mellon, eggplant, tomato and cucumber. A difficult one is the pea, eaten whole in the pod it's technically a fruit, but remove the peas the pod??? then what is a pea a fruit or a vegetable :)


You must qualify the context of this question before giving it an answer. Botanically, yes ... this answer is technically correct. But most people are not botanists. This answer would also define bell peppers as fruits, and (if you consider a spore as a type of "seed") even a mushroom as fruit.

Perhaps a better answer is needed for the context of common lay-person trying to improve their diet. Would not the average person consider a bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and even green-beans as vegetables?

Wikipedia defines Fruit and Vegetables as follows:
"There are three definitions relating to fruits and vegetables:
  • Fruit (scientific): the ovary of a seed-bearing plant,
  • Fruit (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor,
  • Vegetable: any edible part of a plant with a savory flavor."
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