Blueberries and More

Botanically speaking, which of the following fruits is actually a berry?

And the answer: blueberry.

Photo courtesy: YEJI KIM.

In botany, a berry is a simple fleshy fruit, derived from a single ovary of an individual flower, like a blueberry. Some fruits like raspberries and mulberries actually aren't berries; they're instead considered aggregate fruits, or those that consist of a number of much smaller fruits.

The naming of berries began long before any standard definition– some thousands of years before, in fact. Before scientists could ascertain any concrete definition, berries were known as any small, fleshy fruit that could be picked off plants. Botanically speaking, a berry has three distinct fleshy layers: the exocarp (outer skin), mesocarp (fleshy middle) and endocarp (innermost part, which holds the seeds). In addition, berries must have two or more seeds, and flower from a plant with a single ovary. This rules out pit fruits such as peaches and nectarines, as well as fruits we would typically understand to be a berry: the raspberry and strawberry.

Pop quiz!

Out of the following fruits, which is technically considered a berry?

A. Bell pepper

B. Banana

C. Tomato

D. Kiwi

And the answer: trick question! All four of these are technically considered to be berries based on their flowering tendencies and seed qualities. Science is amazing.

To turn your berries into a tasty creation, check out this recipe. And, to learn more about classifications that make less sense than you think, check out the video below.


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