Strawberries are a very popular food. They can be eaten plain, as a side dish, blended into a smoothie, or as part of a dessert. If you ask the regular person whether strawberries are a fruit or a vegetable, they’d probably think it’s a no-brainer that strawberries are a fruit.
Is a Strawberry a Fruit or Vegetable? Answer Explained
The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think. Most people assume that any sweet-tasting, sugary plant is a fruit, and any bitter, green one is a vegetable. This is far from the truth, however.
Strawberries don’t fall into the definition of berries or vegetables. The closest botanical classification that they fit is a fruit, but they are considered a “false fruit” because their seeds are on the outside, rather than the inside, which is the case for most other fruits.
What is a Fruit?
Fruits are defined as the ripened, mature ovary of a flowering plant. Most times, the fruit grows from a blossom into an edible part. These edible fruits are ovaries of the plants they came from, carrying the seeds inside of them.
A quick way to determine for yourself if something is a fruit or a vegetable is whether or not it has seeds. If it does have seeds, it is more than likely to be a fruit. By this definition, a strawberry falls into the category of being a fruit, but its seeds are on the outside, which complicates things. Nearly every single other fruit carries its seeds on the inside to protect them.
What is a Vegetable?
The definition of a vegetable is more broad than that of a fruit. This is because a vegetable could be more than one part of a plant, whereas a fruit is only one part, the ovary. Essentially, if something isn’t a fruit, it is likely to be a vegetable.
Vegetables can be stalks or stems, like celery and asparagus, and they can also be leaves, like lettuce. Vegetables can also be roots of plants, such as potatoes, carrots, and beets. Some vegetables are even flowered buds, like cauliflower and broccoli.
What is a Strawberry?
The closest definition that a strawberry falls into is indeed fruit. Speaking technically, a strawberry is its own genre of food, as the entire strawberry is a receptacle of seeds. This is because when you see the dozens of tiny seeds on a strawberry, these are the botanical fruit, and not the strawberry itself. Scientifically, strawberries are an aggregate fruit.
Berries are defined as a small, juicy fruit that is rounded in shape and does not have a stone. By this definition, strawberries are not berries. Despite their names, neither are blackberries, raspberries, or mulberries.
Some fruits that are classified as botanical berries that you may not expect include bananas, avocados, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Although “berry” is in its name, a strawberry is not a berry or a conventional fruit. It is known as an aggregate fruit.
This is because although strawberries come from a flowering plant, and are a result of mature ovaries, the red, juicy part of the strawberry is the flowered part, rather than the ovary. The tiny seeds you see on the strawberry are actually the fruit.
What is a Vegetable That is Actually a Fruit?
Now you know that the definition of what makes a food a fruit, vegetable, or berry is a little more complicated than you may have previously thought. There are many other foods you may have considered to be fruits, that are actually not, and vice versa.
Some foods you may have thought to be vegetables include: avocados, cucumber, olives, peppers, eggplant, and winter squashes. While they have the colors that we typically associate with vegetables, they fall into the botanical definition of fruits or berries.
Each of these foods contain seeds, which generally means that they are fruits. The reason you may have thought them to be vegetables could also be that the botanical definition of vegetables is somewhat different from the culinary definition of vegetables.
Over the years, a vegetable has become a sort of umbrella term, while fruit has a more specific definition. “Vegetable” to most people is just any edible part of a plant.
Strawberries are indeed a fruit, but they don’t fall into the typical definition of a fruit. This is because the red part of strawberries are the flowering part of a plant, and the seeds are, botanically, the fruit. So, strawberries are considered to be an aggregate fruit.