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Fruits are the containers in which the plant puts its seeds. They are not all fruits as we think of them, but have many different forms. Some are fleshy with parts we like to eat, some are dry, some are heavy and are designed to be dispersed by falling and rolling away from the parent plant, some have wings or fluffy tails to enable them to be caught by the wind to be dispersed.
Fruits are divided into Fleshy Fruits, and Dry Fruits.
Fleshy Fruits can be subdivided again into those formed from a single flower and those formed from a group of flowers. They can have one seed or several seeds in.
Fleshy Fruits formed from a single flower are classified as: Berry, Drupe, Aggregation of Drupes, Pome, Hesperidium. Some authorities also give these separate status: Hep, Pseudocarp, Pepo.
Fleshy Fruits which grow from a group of flowers are: Sorosis, Synconium, Coenocarpium.
Dry Fruits can be divided into those in which the seeds are contained in a seedpod of some sort which opens to release the seeds (called Dehiscent), and those in which there isn't a seedpod which opens (Indehiscent).
Dry Dehiscent Fruits are Follicle, Legume, Silique, Capsule. Some authorities separate these further.
Dry Indehiscent Fruits are: Achene, Nut, Samara, Caryopsis. Some people sub-divide some of these further. There are also Schizocarpic Fruits.
Knowing the type of fruit a plant has might help you to identify it, and might also help you to know when the seeds are ready to harvest.
formed from a single flower
A Berry is a single fleshy fruit without a stone, usually containing a number of seeds.
This is a Kiwi Fruit (Actinidia chinensis). Other fruits of this type are: Banana (Musa), Coffee (Coffea arabica), Currant (Ribes), Pasionfruit (Passiflora), Pepper (Capsicum), Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentus).
A Drupe is a single fleshy fruit with a hard stone which contains the single seed.
This is a Cherry (Prunus avium). Other fruits of this type are: Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), Plum (Prunus x domestica), Coconut (Cocos nucifera), Olive (Olea europaea), Peach (Prunus persica), Sloe (Prunus spinosa).
Aggregation of Drupes
An Aggregation of Drupes is a fleshy fruit, made up of many drupes but formed from a single flower, each drupe containing one seed.
This is a Raspberry (Rubus idaeus). Other fruits of this type are: Loganberry (Rubus), Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus).
A Pome is a fleshy fruit with a thin skin, not formed from the ovary but from another part of the plant. These are sometimes called Accessory Fruits. The seeds are contained in chambers in the centre of the fruit.
This is an Apple (Malus domestica). Other fruits of this type are: Firethorn (Pyracantha), Hawthorn (Crataegus), Medlar (Mespilus germanica), Pear (Pyrus communis), Quince (Cydonia oblonga).
A Hesperidium is a berry with a tough, aromatic rind.
This is an Orange (Citrus sinensis). Other fruits of this type are all Citrus fruits: Citron (Citrus medica), Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi), Kumquat (Fortunella), Lemon (Citrus limon), Lime (Citrus aurantifolia).
There are other types of fleshy fruit which some people classify separately. A Hep or Hip is a fleshy fruit containing achenes, as in the Rose (Rosa); a Pepo is a fleshy fruit with a leathery skin, formed from an inferior ovary. This type of fruit is found only in members of the Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae) - Cucumbers (Cucumis melo), Water Melon (Citrullus lanatus), Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), and Pseudocarp.
A Pseudocarp is a false fruit, because it does not contain the seeds. The seeds are achenes, on the outside of a fleshy fruit.
This is a Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa).