Are strawberries berries? Uhm, not really. But bananas are berries, and it gets weirder

Have you ever wondered if strawberries are actually berries? Well, according to scientists, they aren’t technically berries at all. In fact, they’re not even considered a fruit. It turns out that strawberries are what biologists call a “false fruit,” or a pseudocarp. They are made up of multiple tiny individual fruits embedded in a fleshy receptacle.

Yes, it’s strange, but that’s not even the weirdest part. What we typically think of as the “seeds” in a strawberry are actually the fruit, and they’re embedded in the fleshy false fruit. The actual seeds are inside what we commonly refer to as the seeds. It’s definitely a confusing arrangement!

But strawberries aren’t the only fruits that deceive us. Raspberries and blackberries are also technically not berries. On the other hand, cucumbers, bananas, and even avocados are considered berries. It’s a strange world of fruits and berries out there!

Regular berry, botanical berry

While we may use the term “berry” to refer to any small fleshy fruit that’s edible, scientists have a more specific definition. For them, a berry is a fleshy fruit without a stone or pit, produced from a single flower containing one ovary. Essentially, berries have seeds and pulp that develop from the ovary. The botanical definition is quite different from how we commonly use the term.

The reason for this discrepancy is likely due to the evolution of language. We’ve been calling these fruits “berries” for a long time, long before scientists defined what a berry actually is. The term stuck in our collective vocabulary, and a more specific definition didn’t change the way we use it. For most people, berries will always be small, squishy fruits that grow on plants.

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What even is a fruit?

Let’s talk about fruits for a moment. Did you know that a tomato is technically a fruit, even though we consider it a vegetable? The common definition of a fruit comes from how we use things, not necessarily from what things are. Fruits are the mature and ripened ovaries of flowers. They contain seeds, while vegetables can consist of roots, stems, and leaves.

However, not all fruits develop from ovaries. Some fruits develop from non-reproductive structures near the ovaries and don’t contain seeds. These are known as accessory fruits or false fruits. Examples of false fruits include apples, pears, pineapples, and figs. They form from other non-reproductive structures near the ovary, such as the hypanthium or the receptacle.

We’re getting closer to the berries

True berries, known as baccae, have a thin outer skin that is not self-supporting when removed from the fruit. However, some modified berries have a more rigid and self-supporting skin, such as citrus fruits and cucumbers. These modifications don’t change their classification as berries.

Now that we’ve sorted out the botanical definitions of fruits and berries, let’s look at some examples. Coffee berries, goji berries, honeyberries, gooseberries, and currants are all botanical berries. On the other hand, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears, and apples are not considered berries.

Here’s the kicker: bananas are actually berries! The bananas we eat have been modified to have little to no seeds, but they meet all the criteria of a botanical berry. Other surprising berries include citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, as well as cucumbers, squashes, melons, and watermelons.

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Who cares if strawberries aren’t berries?

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if strawberries are berries or not? Well, for botanists, it does, but for the rest of us, not so much. People will continue to call strawberries a fruit and a berry, even though they technically aren’t. What’s more important is that strawberries are a nutritious and delicious part of our diet.

Strawberries are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, and they contain no sodium, fat, or cholesterol. While they do have some sugar, they’re not as sweet as you might think. In fact, strawberries use their smell to trick us into perceiving them as sweeter than they actually are. So, while they may not be true berries, strawberries are still pretty cool.

Let’s face it, no matter what the scientific definitions say, we’ll probably still call all of these fruits berries. And that’s perfectly fine!

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Q: Can I grow strawberries in my own garden?
A: Absolutely! Strawberries are a great addition to any garden. They can be grown in containers or directly in the ground. Make sure to provide them with plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.

Q: When is the best season for strawberries?
A: Strawberries are typically in season during the spring and early summer months. This is when you’ll find the freshest and most flavorful strawberries at your local farmers’ market or grocery store.

Q: Are organic strawberries better for you?
A: Organic strawberries are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which some people believe makes them a healthier choice. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of organic strawberries compared to conventionally grown strawberries.

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Strawberries may not meet the technical definition of berries, but they’re still a beloved and nutritious fruit. From their unique structure to their delicious flavor, strawberries continue to captivate us. So whether you enjoy them fresh, in a smoothie, or atop a slice of cake, remember that strawberries, despite not being true berries, are still a delightful treat.