The Fruit

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OpenStax Biology 2e

As the seed develops, the walls of the ovary thicken and form the fruit. The seed forms in an ovary, which also enlarges as the seeds grow. Many foods commonly called vegetables are actually fruits. Eggplants, zucchini, string beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers are all technically fruits because they contain seeds and are derived from the thick ovary tissue. Acorns are true nuts, and winged maple “helicopter seeds” or whirligigs (whose botanical name is samara) are also fruits. Botanists classify fruit into more than two dozen different categories, only a few of which are actually fleshy and sweet.

Mature fruit can be fleshy or dry. Fleshy fruit include the familiar berries, peaches, apples, grapes, and tomatoes. Rice, wheat, and nuts are examples of dry fruit. Another subtle distinction is that not all fruits are derived from just the ovary. For instance, strawberries are derived from the ovary as well as the receptacle, and apples are formed from the ovary and the pericarp, or hypanthium. Some fruits are derived from separate ovaries in a single flower, such as the raspberry. Other fruits, such as the pineapple, form from clusters of flowers. Additionally, some fruits, like watermelon and orange, have rinds. Regardless of how they are formed, fruits are an agent of seed dispersal. The variety of shapes and characteristics reflect the mode of dispersal. Wind carries the light dry fruits of trees and dandelions. Water transports floating coconuts. Some fruits attract herbivores with their color or scent, or as food. Once eaten, tough, undigested seeds are dispersed through the herbivore’s feces (endozoochory). Other fruits have burrs and hooks to cling to fur and hitch rides on animals (epizoochory).

Source:

Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e

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