Plant Talk

For Kids: What Is a Fruit?

Posted in Plant Science on April 28, 2020, by Cecilia Zumajo

Cecilia Zumajo is a Graduate Student in the Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory at NYBG.

Photo of kumquats

Citrus japonica ‘Margarita’

Fruits are part of our daily life. At a produce stand, most of us can identify, with confidence, the difference between fruits and vegetables. However, according to the botanical definition, many plant products that are commonly called vegetables are, in fact, fruits!

To classify and describe plant species, our scientists study fruit from different perspectives: they study the mechanisms of seed dispersal, compare the differences and similarities in their shapes and structures, and examine the genes that underlie the enormous diversity of fruits that surround us.

Can you properly sort a cucumber, bell pepper, or eggplant into the categories of fruit or vegetable? What about an acorn or a sunflower seed?

Visit our article on Frontiers for Young Minds with your kids, or check out our past blog post on the topic, to take an in-depth look at the botanical structures of some of your favorite foods, and discover many of the supermarket vegetables in your basket that might have been fruits all along—or vice versa!

Follow @NYBG