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Fruits: Its Definition, Characteristics and Types

Updated on August 7, 2017

Fruit is a seed-bearing structure of angiosperm or flowering plants. It is a ripened ovary which is a component of a female reproductive organ of a female plant. In the female sex cell within the ovary stimulates the egg to ripen. Ripen ovary may form a fleshy, juicy fruit like mango, peach, apple, plum and berries.

In some cases it may also develop into dry fruits like acorn, nuts, wheat, rice and grains. Tomatoes, squash, eggplants, peppers, which are often times referred as a vegetable are certain fruits, because they develop from the ovary of a flower.

Fruit plays a vital role to humans. In fact, China, India, Brazil, and United States, which are known to be the top producers of fruits, produced over 475 million tons every year. Dry fruits such as wheat, corn and rice are some of the earliest staple foods of people worldwide. Some of these dry fruits are processed into bread, beverages, and alcohol.

Fruit markets via Wikimedia Common
Fruit markets via Wikimedia Common | Source

During the past centuries there are great disagreements on how fruits can be classified and distinguish according to their differences and characteristics based on scientific basis. Some of the fruits that heightened the disagreements are achene and nut if where group they belong to the definition was tied to the meaning of the fruit itself. The concept of a fruit does not rotate only on the seeds but also in the covering of the seeds and et cetera.

In some cases and studies, scientist compares “naked seeds” and “covered seeds” their unique identity and their differences from one another. Fruits are also distinguished as mammals or binomials like in plant species and genera. At that moment, scientists had come up with several classifications of fruits that were considered as universal.

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Fruit markets in China via Wikimedia Common
Fruit markets in China via Wikimedia Common | Source

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1. Simple Fruits

Simple Fruits – This type of fruits has two categories the fleshy fruits and the dry fruits. It also contains one matured ovary

a.) Fleshy Fruits

  • Berry – It is one in which the pericarp is mostly fleshy one. It develops from an ovary with one or more carpels. A carpel may contain one or more ovules that is why berries have plenty of seeds. Some examples of fleshy fruits are:
  1. Grapes
  2. Gooseberries
  3. Tomato
  • Drupe- This are fruits with pit inside. It is a type of fruit with outer part of the ovary wall is thin like film and the middle part is thick and fleshy. It develops from an ovary with a single carpel that has edible exocarp and mesocarp and an inedible hard endocarp which is the inner part. Some examples of drupes are:
  1. Mangoes
  2. Cherries
  3. Peaches
  4. Apricots
  5. Plums
  6. Almonds
  7. Coconuts

Dates| Dried fruit markets | Mixed nutsApricots
Dates| Dried fruit markets | Mixed nutsApricots | Source

b.) Dry Fruits

These are sometimes called dehiscent fruits. Dry fruits are differentiated whether they stay intact at maturity or open to release seeds. There are different kinds of intact/dry fruits. In samaras, the pericarp is flimsy, relatively thin and somewhat fused to the seeds. It becomes bigger by slightly forming one or more wings that aid in seed dispersal cause by wind.

Dry fruits like maples, ashes, and elms bear beautiful samaras that can be seen twirling slowly in gusts of wind. On the other hand, nuts have a relatively hard and heavy pericarp.

  • Legume– It is a dry fruit which splits open along two seams like beans
  • Grain- A dry fruit which has only one seed and the seed coat is fused with inner surface of pericarp like corns.
  • Nuts- it is a dry fruit which has only one seed and the pericarp of it is thick and hard. Some of these are: chestnuts, hazelnuts and acorns.


 Rubus fruticosus| Montages of food
Rubus fruticosus| Montages of food | Source
 Blackberries| Berry textures | Raspberries | Berries as aliments | Santa Monica | CaliforniaBlueberries
Blackberries| Berry textures | Raspberries | Berries as aliments | Santa Monica | CaliforniaBlueberries | Source

2. Aggregate fruits – In flower with more than one pistil that are adjacent and every pistil’s ovary develops into a small clumped fruit called fruitlet. These are fruits that contain different matured ovaries and produced by one flower and held by one receptacle.

  • Raspberries

3. Multiple fruits – this are fruits that consist of several matured ovaries produced by several flowers in an inflorescence. Multiple fruits have several flowers clustered on stems although ovaries grows individually. Fruitlets form a larger fruit that is called multiple fruit. Some examples of this are:

  • Pineapples
  • Mulberries
  • Osage Oranges

5. Accessory Fruits – This are fruits that consist of one or more matured ovaries which other parts of flower such as the receptacle as example is the cashew which is the fleshy portion of which is the peduncle and apple which is an edible part is receptacle.

Spermatocarpia

Spermatocarpia are often called the naked seeds. This fruits have seeds that lack scales and the external part is fleshy while the internal part is hard this kind of spermatocarpia is called spermidium.

Some seeds have brightly covering flesh and these are called Arillocarpium. Some spermatocarpia have seeds that are swollen or receptacle stalk, some are covered by fleshy and juicy bracts and some have cylindrical arrangement of seeds in a cone shape.

Reference; Science and Technoloy ( Biology ) by Lilia M. Rabago Ph. D, Crescencia C. Joaquin, Ph.D , Catherine B. Lagunzad, Ph. D, Encarta

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