Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? - Explained why!

Tomato fruit or vegetable

Is the tomato a fruit or vegetable and why is it so? Let's take a look at these questions in detail and for certain you won't be confused anymore. The question - 'Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable' has always been lurking around most of our minds and it's about time that we get detailed answers.

You may wonder why the confusion in the first place! There's a simple cause and the cause is none other than - perception! Each and everyone has their very own view of life right? Similarly different people see tomatoes in different ways.

Botanists and the common man think in different ways and when it comes to the common man there are huge variations when it comes to tomatoes. 50% of the people consider it as a vegetable whereas others take it for granted that it's a fruit. Below you'll find a detailed explanation of why some people consider it a vegetable and also why others call the tomato a fruit.

Tomato fruit or vegetable

When you first came to this article what were your thoughts about the tomato?

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The Tomato as a Vegetable

I've asked some of the people I met recently at university - "What's your view - Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?" Around 70% of them said it's a vegetable. I just said fine and carried on my conversation. Some of the main reasons as to why people consider the tomato to be a vegetable include:

  1. Tomatoes are often used while cooking - Plenty of meals especially in Asia and Africa use tomatoes as an ingredient and you'll even find tomatoes being used excessively in Europe as well as the Americas in the preparation of various meals - including pizza toppings. Since in these cases the tomatoes aren't being consumed like the other fruits we eat, people tend to place them in the vegetable category.
  2. Also, the US Supreme Court ruled pizza as a vegetable right? And, that was one of the biggest rulings for the tomato kingdom! That's what made more people think that the tomato is a vegetable as well - since pizzas had tomatoes too as toppings.
  3. Sauce - Yum! Don't we all just love it? At least most of us? It's hard to imagine life without tomato sauce. Since sauces are processed we take it for granted that tomatoes are vegetables being processed.
  4. When you go shopping where do you find tomatoes? Most of the grocery stores place tomatoes in the vegetable section and this is the single largest factor that has influenced people into thinking that the tomato is a vegetable.

These are just a few of the reasons that have made people consider tomatoes to be vegetables. But, the fact is tomatoes are fruits biologically as explained later. However, remember that you're not wrong at all if you consider tomatoes to be vegetables as we do use them as vegetables too as we've seen through the above facts.

"Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is the understanding that you shouldn't use it in a fruit salad."

The tomato as a Fruit

As you may have guessed, around 30% of the people that I asked said that they think that a tomato is a fruit and that's the right answer in terms of botany. So, lets see the proof that suggests that the tomato is a fruit:

  • Fruits are parts of the plant that arise from the pollination of a flower. Tomatoes are developed after the tomato flower is pollinated and therefore, that makes it clear that a tomato is a fruit.
  • Also, any part of the plant that houses the seeds or gives rise to new plants is considered the fruit of the plant. The tomato does house the seeds and therefore, it's a fruit isn't it?

These are the main reasons that have led to the conclusion that a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. Take a look at the definition of a fruit according to Wikipedia.

A Cool video - Well done I say!

Remember that the beans in this video should be on the fruits side in reality as they too bear seeds and are fruits rather than vegetables. In fact most of our vegetables are botanically fruits and not veggies. Carrots on the other hand are vegetables.

The spread of Tomatoes

The scientific name of a tomato is Solanum lycopersicum. The tomato plant bears a FRUIT which is usually red and edible either raw or cooked. Tomato is basically of South American origin and it spread across the world thanks to Spanish colonisations. So, thanks to the colonisations the tomato is one of the main ingredients in various dishes across the world and when we use it none of us actually bother whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable.

The final say

Let’s try to make it clear not just for tomatoes but all fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables: - Any part of the plant that doesn’t enclose a seed or that isn’t formed due to pollination of a flower is termed as a vegetable. Therefore you can now confidently say that roots, bulbs, flowers, stems and leaves are vegetables and not fruits

Fruits: - Fruits are either with seeds or seedless formed due to the pollination of a flower. If artificial pollination is carried out you get seedless fruits. Therefore you now know that the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.

It doesn’t matter whether you consider a tomato as a fruit or a vegetable because overall it’s delicious in any way that it’s consumed. It’s got loads of health benefits as well. However, if you're doing something official go ahead with the tomato as a fruit - be it your research papers or school assignments.

I think I've managed to prove that the tomato is a fruit used as a vegetable - so no one's wrong and it depends on each ones perspective.

After reading this hub I hope you’ve clearly understood the difference between a fruit and a vegetable and I hope that your doubts are now cleared.

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Comments 54 comments

Hollie Thomas profile image

Hollie Thomas 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi lobobrandon,

I love the lively way you wrote this hub. It is both interesting and informative. Voted up.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi Hollie thanks for stopping by; also for the vote :)

Nice to get positive feedback from you :)


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hi Lobobrandon! I liked the way you presented your information on the tomato. It is both educational and extremely interesting! I learned a lot about the tomato, even though I was aware that it is a fruit. Great job!


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi Dexter glad that you liked the presentation :)

Like always I give it my best when it comes to hubs.


stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

I like the way this is written. I can tell that you really tried here. Also, fruit or vegetable, tomatoes will always have a special place in my heart :)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi Stephan :) great that you liked it. Ya I love tomatoes as well. I didn't try hard but is it really that good?

Asking because 3 of you'll said its written well :)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi guys this hub is noww43rd on google (I guess google.co.in) but yesterday it wasn't in the top 200. I was really surprised but it moved up quite a bit.. Yay!!

The keyword is "tomato fruit or vegetable"

I hope it goes all the way to the top page


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

You are right. This is a question almost as old as which came first, chicken or egg?

Your explanation is spot-on. Fruits are those plants that encase seeds in one fashion or another. (It does seem strange to me to think of a sugar snap pea as a fruit.)

So I pose this...squash blossoms are edible (and delicious), and once the blossom is fertilized and produces the squash, the squash is edible, too, but contains seeds. So, is the squash plant both a fruit and a vegetable? :)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Haha tough question :) I've never had squash so I personally don't know. But from the way you put it it's a vegetable.

Not sure though correct me if I'm wrong


stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

Maybe it just came naturally, but it is still really good, yes! the writing is good! Maybe you are just a seasoned writer.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Oh wow :) thanks

I wish the freelance clients on elance could see it that way. All they see and speak is " Native English writers"

They don't know that people from other countries too speak English and write well.


stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

Well, aren't you a native English writer? Soon they will have to change their policies, as the world is becoming such a small place and people from all over are speaking English well.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

No for them native English writers are writers from the US, Canada, UK or Aus.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

You might find this site kind of interesting, and it's got squash on the home page. :)

http://www.producepedia.com/vegetable.php?gclid=CI...

As the chicken / egg question has kept people interested for a long time, the fruit / vegetable question will, too, at least for as long as the popular notion of a fruit is something sweet, as you say. It's sort of like looking up at the night sky. I see stars in a field of black, unlike physicists and astronomers who see stars in a field of matter that's so challenging to understand.

That a plant is a fruit by virtue of sweetness and that stars exist in a field of black may be where man's poetry and faith trump science. :)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Haha nice comparison with regards to stars and you've come up with a great conclusion - man's poetry and faith trump science :). Couldn't be put forth any better

Thanks for the link - could really use some of those interesting facts in my future hubs.

Thanks for taking the time to write this beautiful comment


tsmog profile image

tsmog 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

Great article and a very good read. I enjoyed the transition, flow, and importantly the conclusion. Remember to smile and have fun, fun, fun , , ,


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Ya it really doesn't matter if the tomato is a fruit or vegetable as it's still an important part in most of our dishes.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)


sbrina2write profile image

sbrina2write 5 years ago from United States

Very interesting I always thought that tomatoes was a vegetable until several years ago I learned it is part of the fruit family. Good Hub


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Hi Sbrina2write, thanks for reading and commenting :)

Yup I know it is a very common question, that's the reason I wrote this hub.


sbrina2write profile image

sbrina2write 5 years ago from United States

good, so many people do not realize there is a difference.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 5 years ago Author

Yup that's true :)


Rehana Stormme profile image

Rehana Stormme 4 years ago

I think this could easily be one of the best articles I've ever come across on whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable!

For those of you who still aren't convinced about the tomato being a fruit or vegetable, there's one quote that would aptly sum it up, and that is:

'Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting in your fruit salad.'


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Hi Rehana, great sentence thanks for adding it here :)

Thanks for the comment and praises - I really appreciate it


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

This is the kind of article that I like. Words do have multiple meanings including vegetable like animal, vegetable or mineral. So all fruits are vegetables and all grains are fruits. So you can find articles that explain that corn is all three. I am an ethnobotanical herbalist.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Thanks Chuck that's good to hear from an ethnobotanical herbalist. I agree corn is surely all three, but that will create a great hub as well. Will keep that in mind when :)


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

All fruits are vegetables but not all vegetables are fruits. All sororities are fraternities but not all fraternities are sororities. All actresses are actors but not all actors are actresses. All waitresses are waiters but not all waiters are waitresses.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Haha Chuck thanks for adding a bit of humor to this hub :D


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Excellent, informative and amusing hub! I have voted up!


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Thanks Bard of Ely :)


Eje from Nigeria 4 years ago

Wow! I'd always thought tomatoes were vegetables, perhaps because they are used that way until today when one of my friends on facebook shared the quote Rehana gave above. That got me thinking! Really useful hub. Thanks.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Hi Eje, first and foremost thanks for commenting :) Yup I loved the statement posted by Rehana as well. Tomatoes are used as vegetables and that's the main reason most people think of them as one. But, now you know - they're fruits ;)


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

Other fruits that are not very sweet and so not regarded as fruits are cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and squash.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Yup and what about beans? ;) Actually most of the common vegetables are fruits - It's really interesting if you actually think about it while cooking or grocery shopping. Thanks for the comment Chuck


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

Beans are considered in their own group as legumes. But there are hundreds of leafy greens that are not fruits like spinach, dill, frisee, arugula, radiccchio, romaine, oak leaf, Lollo Rosa, tango, red & green chard, mizuna, parsley, cilantro, kale, turnip greens, dandelion greens, celery greens, radish greens and more. Celery is a stalk.

You also have the cabbage family vegetables (cruciferous vegetables) like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli and others. There are also the tubers that are like roots like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and yucca that are popular in South America. All the grains are fruits. But bean sprouts are not fruits.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Oh thanks I wanted to know about beans. Celery is a stalk? I thought it's a leaf and stalk not just the stalk. I have no clue as to what cilantro, kale, mizuna and Lollo Rosa are :) Googling them as I type. Thanks for the info


jenubouka 4 years ago

Ah, the everlasting debate. In a scientific approach, there is no such term as a vegetable either. We eat plants and fruit. The edible plants bear leaves (lettuce), stems (celery), and roots (potatoes/beets), everything else is classified as a fruit even nuts, they are an oily fruit.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Yup, it's an interesting topic not just tomatoes but everything in general as well. Not all nuts are fruits - Cashew nuts are seeds :) You make a good point about nothing being a vegetable - will have to think it over. Thanks for the insightful comment jenubouka


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

Actually the nuts and seeds are hard fruits. Strawberries are a fruit but have seeds in them and so does watermelon. Some grapes have seeds in them and it is good to chew and eat the seeds. Grapes are fruits (that includes the seeds in them). When plants have sex, their children are the fruit like the fruit of their loins. When talking about words like "vegetable", it is good to use a dictionary instead of your imagination.

In one definition of vegetable you have animal, vegetable or mineral. Grape is a vegetable. Pig is an animal and salt is a mineral. Vegetable (Merriam-Webster):

1

a: of, relating to, constituting, or growing like plants b: consisting of plants : vegetational

2

: made from, obtained from, or containing plants or ?plant? products vegetable soup vegetable fat

3

: resembling or suggesting a plant (as in inertness or passivity)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Consisting of plants makes the most sense here. Thanks


minicoop2199 4 years ago

People always say that the tomato is a veggie, but I tell them that in terms of botany, the tomato is actually a fruit. But nobody ever believes me. By the way this site really helped my daughter with her science project.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Hi MiniCoop, You don't know how happy I am today as I've actually helped someone with their project :)

Yup, I agree I had the same problem explaining it to people and hence I wrote about it myself and I did a bit of research to prove it too. Next time someone argues about it just direct them here - That would make them know they're scientifically wrong.


nielsonratings 4 years ago

Being that it is one of the 8 in v8, it MUST be a vegetable!


Insane Mundane profile image

Insane Mundane 4 years ago from Earth

Ha! This always strikes me as a funny subject...

Well, I will say this: Whenever I pick a tomato when it is fairly green, slice it up into thick slices, batter 'em with flour & seasoning and fry those suckers (fried green tomatoes) in hot oil until golden brown, it sure seems like a tasty vegetable to me!


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago Author

Haha I never new fried green tomatoes taste good! Thanks for the comment & info :)


xolani 3 years ago

I understand your defination but where do you put peas,pumpkin and green pepper because they come from the pollination of the flower? Are they also considered as fruits?


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 3 years ago Author

Yes, the tomato is a fruit as you now know, but peas, pumpkins and green pepper are fruits as well as they're all formed due to pollination. Almost all the veggies that we consume are actually fruits, other than salad leaves and a few other things


mgt28 profile image

mgt28 3 years ago

Good writer. I came across something like: Knowledge is the understanding that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is the understanding not to use it in a fruit salad.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 3 years ago Author

Hahaha! That's a good one, just added it to the hub. Glad you liked the article


Mickji profile image

Mickji 2 years ago from between Italy and Switzerland, travelling around the world thanks to a little special object

US Court really said that pizza is a vegetable? .... Come on, you cannot grow a pizza in the garden, so it is impossible for it to be a vegetable. It can only be a final product.

However also fruits are used in coocking like tomatoes. You use them in sauces, use them cold or hot, together with other ingredients. Sometimes they are the main ingredient of a recipe. I'm not talking about cakes and all those sort of sweet things but also with the first and second dish. Example the roast with apples. In that case apples should be considered vegetables, instead they are not.

You know a funny thing ? At coocking school they say that tomatoes are vegetables ( I'm talking about a high level school ).


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 2 years ago Author

We always learnt them to be fruits and that's true. Fruits can be vegetables, but vegetables need not be fruits.


Tajdar ilahi 2 years ago

It depends on who you ask, a botantist or horticulturist. For all practical purposes I say its a fruit. It's legal and technical mumbo-jumbo that claims it to be a vegetable.

Botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit and is classified as a berry. It is a fruit because it is a ripened mature ovary containing seed. One can confirm this by looking up both "fruit" and "tomato" in a dictionary. (No not the definition of old slang that says a "tomato" is an attractive woman). Things like peppers, eggplants and cucumbers are also fruits by this definition.

Horticulturally speaking it is defined as a vegetable for two other reasons:

1- it is a nonwoody annual (ok, what I want to know then why don't they say watermelons are vegetables?)

2- it was classified this way in 1893 by the Supreme Court for trade reasons (imposing import taxes to protect growers)


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 2 years ago Author

@Tajdar ilahi Exactly it's modified into a vegetable just for tax purposes etc in the US. All across the world as far as I know, it's still a fruit. That's why I was surprised when people thought it was a vegetable.

Yup anything with seeds is a fruit. Most of our so called veggies are fruits though lol.


GypsyOwl profile image

GypsyOwl 2 years ago from Chico California

Well done! I have read a dozen or more articles, over the years, about this tomato question. Your articles is by far the best. It is well written, informative, and kept my interest a lot longer than I expected it to.


lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 2 years ago Author

Thanks GypsyOwl, glad you liked it and it's so kind of you to leave such a kind comment.

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