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This Garden Vocabulary series seeks to introduce and explain to you — and in many cases, myself — words and terms associated with gardening. Please let me know if  there are any terms you would like me to explore. You can leave your ideas in the comments section and we can learn together!


In botany, a fruit is a part of a flowering plant that derives from specific tissues of the flower, one or more ovaries, and in some cases accessory tissues. Fruits are the means by which these plants disseminate seeds. Many of them that bear edible fruits, in particular, have propagated with the movements of humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship as a means for seed dispersal and nutrition, respectively; in fact, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food.[1] Fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the apple and the pomegranate) have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings.

Read the entire article on Wikipedia, Fruit

For most people, botanists excluded, the term fruit can be fairly fluid. The most obvious example of this is the tomato. While normally considered a vegetable, botanically it is a fruit. The tomato that we eat is a reproductive structure containing seeds surrounded by a nourishing flesh (for the seeds) that allows the plant to propagate. Vegetables, on the other hand, are plants where we eat the leaves, stems or roots.

You can further divide fruits into two more categories — fleshy fruits and dry fruits. These two then subdivide into even more divisions. See the link below from entitled Botany 101: Fruits and Seeds for more information.

While it might not make a difference to most people, knowing whether our garden products are fruits or vegetables can come in handy when planting, caring and harvesting these foods. 

Fig Fruit and Leaves

Seed leaves are part of the plant embryo, established after seed fertilization and used to start the plant growing. They use the food stores of the original seed to germinate and begin growing. For most garden plants, seed leaves appear as 2 leaves on the seedling whereas the first true leaves are often seen in a group of four leaves further along the stem than the seed leaves. In many cases, the seed leaves look distinctly different from the true leaves of whatever plant you are growing. You can see an example of this is the video below.

Further reading on Fruit:

Previously on Garden Vocabulary: