Strawberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries are Not Actually Berries: Is it True?
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Posted by Eric Troy on 24 Oct 2016 18:53

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It seems strange that so many of the fruits which actually have "berry" in their names are not true berries, but botanically, it is true. Understanding how fruits are classified can be difficult, but a simple explanation may clear things up.

A berry is a simple fruit developed from one flower which has many seeds loosely embedded in its flesh.

Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are not berries, but aggregate stone fruits or just aggregate fruits. The flowers which develop these fruits have numerous pistils from which each little fruit develops. Some aggregate fruits like the blackberry or strawberry are also considered accessory fruits, or aggregate-accessory fruits. This is because they contain a significant proportion of flesh that is developed from non-ovarian tissue. These are sometimes called pseudocarps.

A stone fruit (simple stone fruit) is a fruit that has a thin exocarp or 'skin' with a layer of flesh (usually juicy) underneath it. This flesh surrounds a seed with a hard endocarp. So, stone fruits are fruits like peaches, plums, and cherries. Coconuts are also stone fruits, but they have a fibrous flesh. The are all fruits considered drupes.

Aggregate stone fruits are produced by flowers with many ovaries which grow many fruits that are joined together on a swollen receptacle on the end of a stem.

Examples of true berries, which have many seeds, are blueberries, gooseberries, and grapes. However, there are other examples of berries which many surprise you.


Raspberries, aggregate stone fruits

In this high-resolution close-up photo of raspberries, you can
see the individual 'fruits' characteristic of an aggregate stone
fruit.

Raspberries, aggregate stone fruits

In this high-resolution close-up photo of raspberries, you can
see the individual 'fruits' characteristic of an aggregate stone
fruit.


Fruits that Are Surprisingly Berries

Melons are berries, for example. Yes, a watermelon is a huge berry! It meets the description above, doesn't it? Melons are a type of berry called a pepo, which have a very thick rind. Tomatoes are also berries. So too are cucumbers and peppers. Bananas are also sometimes classified as berries.

The avocado is a berry, as well: An unusual one-seeded one. The cacao pod, from which chocolate is derived, is also a berry. There is also the pineapple and the pomegranate. What strange berries!

Of course, no matter how a botanist classifies a berry, we aren't going to make a berry pie with cantaloupe or cucumbers.

© 2016 by Eric Troy and CulinaryLore. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.