What is the difference between a fruit and a berry?

By: Pittman & Davis | On: | Category: Fruit Information
fruit and berries


Do berries count as fruit?

That may seem like a strange question…after all, berries fit the generalized definition of fruit, i.e. the sweet, fleshy, seed-holding structure of a flowering plant. So why would there be any question about it?

What springs to mind when you hear the word, “fruit?” If you’re like many Americans you’ll think first of the fruits commonly found in your local produce section or in popular fruit gift boxes from Pittman & Davis: Navel Oranges, Grapefruits, Apples, and Pears. You might also think of common fruits you can buy locally that our fruit baskets do not contain, such as grapes, bananas, and kiwis, as well as the fruits we commonly think of when we think of berries (such as cranberries and blueberries).

What Makes a Fruit a Fruit?

As stated above, the general definition of a fruit refers to the reproductive organ of flowering plants whose main function is to distribute seeds to new areas where the plant may grow.

There are two main categories of fruit: fleshy and dry. Fleshy fruit is what we tend to think of when we think of fruit. Dry fruits refer to nuts, coconuts, and legumes – foods that may surprise you to learn qualify as fruits!

There are three types of fleshy fruits: simple fleshy fruits, aggregate fleshy fruits, and multiple fleshy fruits. There are subcategories within these types, and berries are a subcategory of simple fleshy fruits.

What Makes a Berry a Fruit?

Most people call any small, flesh fruit a berry. But in some cases the classification of a fruit as a berry is a colloquialism – you might be surprised to learn that many of the fruits that have “berry” right in the name aren’t true berries at all. These include raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. These fruits actually are aggregate fruits; that is, fruits that consist of a number of smaller fruits grown together. (It’s funny to think of when you consider some fruit delivery services that specialize in berries as fruit to send identify strawberries as their most popular “berry” when it comes to fruit delivery!)

Just as it may surprise you to find that fruits you commonly think of berries are not berries, it may also surprise you to learn that some fruits you wouldn’t guess are berries. These include bananas, kiwis, grapes, tomatoes, avocados, and peppers. All of these fruits (including the ones we often think of as vegetables) qualify as berries because they are simple, fleshy fruits that develop from a flower with a single ovary and have soft skins, a fleshy middle, and small seeds.

To Sum Up

So yes – berries are definitely fruits. To qualify as a berry botanically, the fruit in question needs to be a simple fruit that developed from a single flower. Some fruits that qualify as berries – like grapes – are surprising. Others that seem like they might qualify as berries do not. A good example is cherries, which are actually drupes or stone fruits. You can order a fresh fruit delivery of cherries from Pittman & Davis during the summer months.

Looking for a fruit gift basket containing berries from Pittman & Davis? Try our dried chocolate-covered berries! (Some of the fruit in these assortments aren’t really berries, of course, but the blueberries are!)

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