||Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in
Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
Book Excerpt: FRUIT
When flowers ovaries ripen, they form fruit,
sometimes along with accessory tissues. The fruits
composition depends on the plants seed-dispersing
strategy. It need not even be fleshy: From a culinary
standpoint, nuts arent fruits, but botanically, theyre
one-seeded, dry fruits with hard outer walls, like
acorns or hazelnuts, that dont open when mature
(Pods open when they mature).
Sunflower seeds fruits called achenes. Like nuts,
theyre one seeded fruits that dont open when
mature, but the seed attaches to the inside of the shell
at one point.
Fleshy fruits are also distinctive. True berries, like
autumn olives, currants, and ground-cherries, are
thin-skinned fruits with seeds loosely embedded in a
soft, succulent pulp.
Peaches and plums are drupes: One hard stone or pit
encloses the seed. A pome, like an apple or pear, is a
many-seeded fruit that doesnt open. Its fleshy portion
comes from the receptacle, not the ovary.
Individual fruits may also fuse, the way flowers
sometimes do: When the a flower clusters fruits form
a dense mass, you get a multiple fruit, like mulberries.
If the bunch of fused fruits comes from one flower
with multiple ovaries, you get an aggregate fruit, like a
raspberry or blackberry.
When a fruits fleshy part originates from a flower
part other than the ovary, its an accessory fruit: The
strawberrys flesh, for example, comes from the
receptacle. Its an accessory fruit, while its seeds are
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