Fruit or Vegetable or Berry or Drupe... wait a minute, what's a drupe?

Let me tell you something surprising.  Surprising but true.
Tomatoes are fruits.
Bananas are berries.

 Think I've been overdoing the Yuletide eggnog?

Strange as it may sound, many common "vegetables" are actually fruit, and quite
 a few fruits you wouldn't imagine are also "berries."  

What is a fruit?
A fruit is the mature ovary of a flowering plant.  It's edible, and contains flesh surrounding the seeds.  So, basically, if we eat the part containing the seeds, it's a fruit.  Like a tomato.  Or an avocado.  Or beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, even nuts and olives!  

Vegetables on the other hand are plants that are eaten as leaves (lettuce, spinach, chard), stems (celery, asparagus, broccoli), roots (carrots, radish, potato), or flowers (broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke).  We don't eat the fruiting body of vegetables.  
But, what did I mean about bananas being berries?  Surely that's wrong, right?  Nope.
A berry is a fruit that comes from a single flower, with a single ovary, with three fleshy layers.  1-the skin. 2- the fleshy part we eat. 3- the inner part with the seeds.  But, there's more to a berry.  There must be a minimum of two seeds!  So, botany-wise, which fruits are also berries?  For a start...
  • grapes
  • oranges
  • peppers
  • kiwis
  • eggplants
  • tomatoes 
  • cucumbers
  • bananas
  • cranberries
  • blueberries
Yes, a couple of what are commonly called "berries" fit the bill!  Bananas do too, which comes a surprise to many monkeys, as they didn't realize bananas even had seeds!  Yes, they do, and you eat them every time you eat a banana! 

I guess you could say, and indeed it would be correct, that all berries are fruits, but not all fruits are berries.  (Like all Border collies are dogs, but not all dogs are Border collies.)

So, where does this leave poor raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, strawberries, and the rest of the fruit formerly known as berries?  Well, for one, they will still be commonly called berries, and you can go ahead and refer to them that way.  Those juicy little fruits were called "berries" thousands of years before botanists came along and defined the word. (left - Meeker raspberries, unknown variety of June bearing strawberries  right - boysenberries

Then, what are raspberries and strawberries, blackberries and boysenberries, if not berries?  Strawberries are "aggregate fruit," they have one flower like a true berry, but in that single flower are many ovaries which come together into one fruit when fully developed.

Blackberries, raspberries, etc. have those little juice filled bumps, if you will.  Each of those bumps formed from a different ovary.  A berry has one flower, one ovary, and at least two seeds.

If not berries, what are they, besides delicious, and fruit?  Drupes!  Each of what I called bumps on a raspberry is a drupelet clustered around a center stem.  Each contains a seed.  Which is why one blackberry or tayberry is so darn crunchy! 

Other drupes are known as "stone fruit." Stone fruit?  Aren't those cherries, apricots, plums?  Yes!  A drupe by definition is a fleshy fruit with a large seed in the center.  Plus aggregate fruit...  It goes much deeper and is more involved and complicated, but those are the basics!

As a side note, as a rule, vegetables contain fewer calories than fruit per serving.  The rule is broken with the starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and beets.  But, remember how nutritious a potato is!  Also, if you need quick energy, but no sugar-rush side effects, eat a cucumber!  Really!  The 
B vitamins and carbs in a cucumber can give you enough energy to last hours!  And in only 8 calories per 1/2 cup.  


  1. Fascinating! I'm sharing this with my foodie of a husband. Be well!

  2. I had no idea! That's amazing information,thank you for such a great post!


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