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What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Updated on December 1, 2014

Many people can say that an apple is a fruit and a pepper is a vegetable, but what scientifically is the distinction between the two types of foods?

The answer is based on the parts of the plant involved. Basically, fruits are developed from flowers, vegetables aren't.

A fruit is the ripened ovary/ovaries of the flower of a seed-bearing plant, and are derived from carpels, the plant's basic female reproductive part. Fruits contain seeds, which serve as the ovules of the plant. Once a plant starts growing flowers and the flowers are fertilized, the flower can then develop into a fruit with seeds.

Fruits are the ways that seeds can be spread, whether by falling from the plant to the ground or being eaten by an animal or human and spread in the leavings. Technically, anything with seeds should be classified as a fruit. Radishes and lettuce don't have seeds, but squash do!

Fruits are often so sweet because they contain plenty of fructose, which vegetables have little of.

Even nuts are fruits!

Vegetables are not made from flowers; instead, they are the plant's roots (carrots), stems (celery), leaves (cabbage) and other edible parts of a plant. And mushrooms don't count.

Here is a list of fruits many people consider to be vegetables:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash and zucchini
  • Peppers (all types!)
  • Avocado


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    • profile image

      HI 5 years ago

      Another fruit that is considered a plant is a banana. To prove it, cut a banana in half and then you will see little seeds.

    • profile image

      #missinformed 6 years ago

      FALSE! There is no such thing as a veggie, it is made up, everything you eat is either a fruit, root, leaf

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 6 years ago from North York, Canada

      Well explained and very interesting. Finally I can tell my fruits from my veggies. Very informative hub. Thank you!

    • hameidinger profile image

      hameidinger 6 years ago

      Interesting hub. And great information.

    • sarclair profile image

      sarclair 6 years ago

      A nut is a fruit? This is a neet hub. Thanks.

    • profile image

      rose 6 years ago

      This is REALLY interesting.Thanks!

    • profile image

      15wewe 7 years ago

      thanks mitch kaminski you helped me out a lot for putting a lot of information on the computer about a friut and a vegetable i really do apreciate that you also helped me from getting into trouble one more time thanks a lot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot thanks alot i apreciate the hard work u put on the cuputer thank you...........

    • profile image

      kamini 7 years ago

      very intresting

    • lovebuglena profile image

      Lena Kovadlo 7 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Very interesting and informative hub.

      I've always considered an avocado a fruit (glad I was right), never thought nuts were fruits, and thought that tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. were vegetables.

      How about peas and string beans? Are they fruits or veggies?

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you ChristopherD!

    • profile image

      ChristopherD 7 years ago

      Love the Hub. I was also taught that with only one slight difference. Vegetables as whole do not exist. The root type are tubers........ Someone somewhere created the word up and no one ever has fought the distinction since.

      Glad to see that someone else has a brain on their shoulders.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California


    • VegetarianLikeMe profile image

      VegetarianLikeMe 7 years ago

      My husband asked me a question about "clementines." He said, clementines don't have are they still fruit." I was like yes dear :)

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

      Good to know, Delaney!

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 7 years ago

      Interesting hub and well-researched. Here's an interesting fact: avocados and pistachios are in the same family. Many people think avocados are a vegetable (or even a fruit) but they're actually a nut.

    • profile image

      Nicki 8 years ago

      Thanks I'm really grateful for this priceless knowledge. Helped me to prove to my friends I was right.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      People can, thirdmillenium... but I wouldn't like to! :)

    • thirdmillenium profile image

      thirdmillenium 8 years ago from Here, There, Everywhere

      Fruit or vegetable, can you cook without it?

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks everyone! Choke, I think you're confused... Sugar content is not the way by which fruits and vegetables are differentiated

    • profile image

      Choke 8 years ago

      This is all lies. Vegetables and Fruits are categorized entirely by sugar content... moron!

    • starme77 profile image

      starme77 8 years ago

      The age old question of is a tomatoe a fruit or a veggie has been answered!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Very nice hub. I have been wondering about this topic for a while but never took the time to investigate it. Thank You

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      Thanks everyone, and thanks for the site, Panda Bear!

    • profile image

      Panda Bear 8 years ago

      Great entry :). Fruits also tend to have a higher concentration of fructose than vegetables (since fruits are made to be eaten by animals for seed dispersal as you mentioned). That's why fruits are sweeter than vegetables, in general

      I also wrote an article about this :

    • Sexy jonty profile image

      Sexy jonty 8 years ago from India

      Very well written hub .....

      very much informative ......

      Thank you very much for your great hub, for good advice, good wishes and support. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

    • profile image

      naMR 8 years ago


    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 8 years ago from Texas

      I knew that some of these were fruits, but I guess I never thought about cucumbers and zucchini. Live and learn.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      knowing this makes the division easy

    • Suzie Parker profile image

      Suzie Parker 8 years ago

      You taught me something I didn't know tonight. Very interesting, thanks.

    • profile image

      jenepha 8 years ago

      my doubt is ,after the development of flowers only both the vegetables and fruita develop.then why it is metioned as fruit develops from ovary....

    • swathin2 profile image

      swathin2 8 years ago

      very interesting and cool one. nice way of differentiation between a fruit and a vegetable

    • profile image

      Mitch Kaminski 8 years ago

      The difference is that a Fruit is what a Plant, Bush, or Tree produce. A vegetable IS the Plant, leaves or roots themselves. Carrots, onions, cabbage, turnips, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes. These are all, Plants or the roots of a plant. Thus Vegetation. Melons, berries, apples, cherries, plums, peaches, tomato’s, and dry fruits, such as nuts, grains, beans and peas. These are all something the Vegetation has produced. The apple tree produces, Apples. Apples are the fruit. If you ate the tree or the leave or roots of the tree, you would be eating Vegetation, or vegetables.

    • profile image

      Toni 8 years ago

      Great answer. I have been wondering abouth this for a while but what are peas and runner beans then? They should be fruit also?!!

    • profile image

      d.p 8 years ago

      u stinkers

    • profile image

      Farmrr 8 years ago

      I was told that a strawberry is a nut not a fruit. Because its seed is on the outside

    • profile image

      nokos 9 years ago

      Just remember (if it has seeds in the middle or on the outside for strawberries it is a fruit) that's how i remember. Oh and corn is a fruit to i didn't know that one.

    • mapsandearth profile image

      mapsandearth 9 years ago

      i think fruit can't cook it but vegetable yes ;-)

    • profile image

      Evan 9 years ago

      I had to surch this for my class.You told me the ansewr.

    • profile image

      coolio 9 years ago

      cool , cheers

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Good question and great answer! :-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Good hub!

    • jaymz profile image

      jaymz 9 years ago from USA

      Cool. I always get this confused.

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 9 years ago from Fremont CA

      Very interesting