The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about the fruit. For other meanings, see Berry (disambiguation).
Several types of "berries" from the market, but none of these are true berries.
Several types of "berries" from the market, but none of these are true berries.

The botanist's berry

In botany, the berry is the most common type of simple fleshy fruit; one in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. The ovary is always superior in these flowers, and they have one or more carpels within a thin covering and very fleshy interiors. The seeds are embedded in the common flesh of the ovary.

In this sense, the tomato is a berry and the strawberry is not. Other examples of botanical berries include the grape, date, avocado, persimmon, eggplant, guava, and chile pepper. The fruit of citrus, such as the orange and lemon, is a modified berry called a hesperidium. A plant that bears berries is referred to as bacciferous.

In plant species with an inferior ovary, the floral tube (including the basal parts of the sepals, petals, and stamens) can ripen along with the ovary, creating an accessory fruit called a false berry. Included in this category are the banana, cucurbits such as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin, melon, and watermelon, as well as the currant, cranberry, blueberry, and gooseberry.

The layperson's berry

In common parlance and cuisine, the term "berry" refers generically to any small, sweet fruit; in this sense, the strawberry is a berry and the tomato is not. Other berries in this but not the botanical sense include blackberry, raspberry, and boysenberry.

These fruits tend to be small, sweet, juicy, and of a bright color contrasting with their background to make them more attractive to animals that disperse them and thus scatter the seeds of the plant.

See also

The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy