Fruits and Vegetables


Are They Nuts, Fruits, or Vegetables?


                The terms, fruits and vegetables, outside botanical circles, are very loosely used. Common usage and expediency are the governing influences in referring to the differences in vegetative matter. Tomatoes and cucumbers, while usually considered as being vegetables are in reality fruits.

The courts have established the potato, cabbage, carrot, pea, celery, lettuce, tomato, etc., as vegetables. Plant life that is used only for desserts has been legally termed fruit.

However from a botanical point of view, fruits are fruits and vegetables are vegetables because of developmental characteristics. A fruit is the product of a ripened ovary. It is developed from the flower as the result of fertilization of the ovule. The term fruit is strictly applied to the mature pistil or ovary. A vegetable is the edible tuberous portion of the plant.

According to these definitions, it is obvious that we are daily referring to fruits and vegetables in the wrong sense.

Fruits being the results of a fertilized flower, we must refer to peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash as fruits. As in the case of the pea and bean, the whole pod and seed is a fruit. The individual peas and beans are referred to as seeds. Nuts with the shell are fruits, the edible portion inside the shell is a seed. Plums, peaches, pears, oranges and lemons are fruits with the seeds contained within.

In general, a fruit is not considered to be ripened unless it has been fertilized. However there are cases where as a result of cultivation, the fruit swells without being fertilized and we have developed the seedless fruit. Seedless oranges, grapes and pineapple.

Such tuberous vegetation as the potato, rhutabaga, carrot, and whole peanut are vegetables.