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matured ovary of the pistil of a flower, containing the seedseed,
fertilized and ripened ovule, consisting of the plant embryo, varying amounts of stored food material, and a protective outer seed coat. Seeds are frequently confused with the fruit enclosing them in flowering plants, especially in grains and nuts.
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. After the egg nucleus, or ovum, has been fertilized (see fertilizationfertilization,
in biology, process in the reproduction of both plants and animals, involving the union of two unlike sex cells (gametes), the sperm and the ovum, followed by the joining of their nuclei.
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) and the embryo plantlet begins to form, the surrounding ovule (see pistilpistil
, one of the four basic parts of a flower, the central structure around which are arranged the stamens, the petals, and the sepals. The pistil is usually called the female reproductive organ of a flowering plant, although the actual reproductive structures are microscopic.
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) develops into a seed and the ovary wall (pericarp) around the ovule becomes the fruit. The pericarp consists of three layers of tissue: the thin outer exocarp, which becomes the "skin"; the thicker mesocarp; and the inner endocarp, immediately surrounding the ovule. A flower may have one or more simple pistils or a compound pistil made up of two or more fused simple pistils (each called a carpel); different arrangements give rise to different types of fruit. A new variety of fruit is obtained as a hybridhybrid
, term applied by plant and animal breeders to the offspring of a cross between two different subspecies or species, and by geneticists to the offspring of parents differing in any genetic characteristic (see genetics).
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 in plant breedingbreeding,
in agriculture and animal husbandry, propagation of plants and animals by sexual reproduction; usually based on selection of parents with desirable traits to produce improved progeny.
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 or may develop spontaneously by mutationmutation,
in biology, a sudden, random change in a gene, or unit of hereditary material, that can alter an inheritable characteristic. Most mutations are not beneficial, since any change in the delicate balance of an organism having a high level of adaptation to its environment
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Types of Fruits

Fruits are classified according to the arrangement from which they derive. There are four types—simple, aggregate, multiple, and accessory fruits. Simple fruits develop from a single ovary of a single flower and may be fleshy or dry. Principal fleshy fruit types are the berry, in which the entire pericarp is soft and pulpy (e.g., the grape, tomato, banana, pepo, hesperidium, and blueberry) and the drupe, in which the outer layers may be pulpy, fibrous, or leathery and the endocarp hardens into a pit or stone enclosing one or more seeds (e.g., the peach, cherry, olive, coconut, and walnut). The name fruit is often applied loosely to all edible plant products and specifically to the fleshy fruits, some of which (e.g., eggplant, tomatoes, and squash) are commonly called vegetables. Dry fruits are divided into those whose hard or papery shells split open to release the mature seed (dehiscent fruits) and those that do not split (indehiscent fruits). Among the dehiscent fruits are the legumelegume
, common name for any plant of the family Leguminosae, which is called also the pulse, legume, pea, or bean family. The word is often used loosely in the plural for vegetables in general.
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 (e.g., the pod of the pea and bean), which splits at both edges, and the follicle, which splits on only one side (e.g., milkweed and larkspur); others include the dry fruits of the poppy, snapdragon, lily, and mustard. Indehiscent fruits include the single-seeded achene of the buttercup and the composite flowers; the caryopsis (graingrain,
in agriculture, term referring to the caryopsis, or dry fruit, of a cereal grass. The term is also applied to the seedlike fruits of buckwheat and of certain other plants and is used collectively for any plant that bears such fruits.
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); the nutnut,
in botany, a dry one-seeded fruit which is indehiscent (i.e., does not split open along a definite seam at maturity). Among the true nuts are the acorn, chestnut, and hazelnut.
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 (e.g., acorn and hazelnut); and the fruits of the carrot and parsnip (not to be confused with their edible fleshy roots).

An aggregate fruit (e.g., blackberry and raspberry) consists of a mass of small drupes (drupelets), each of which developed from a separate ovary of a single flower. A multiple fruit (e.g., pineapple and mulberry) develops from the ovaries of many flowers growing in a cluster. Accessory fruits contain tissue derived from plant parts other than the ovary; the strawberry is actually a number of tiny achenes (miscalled seeds) outside a central pulpy pith that is the enlarged receptacle or base of the flower. The core of the pineapple is also receptacle (stem) tissue. The best-known accessory fruit is the pome (e.g., apple and pear), in which the fleshy edible portion is swollen stem tissue and the true fruit is the central core. The skin of the banana is also stem tissue, as is the rind of the pepo (berrylike fruit) of the squash, cucumber, and melon.

The Role of Fruits in Seed Dispersal

The structure of a fruit often facilitates the dispersal of its seeds. The "wings" of the maple, elm, and ailanthus fruits and the "parachutes" of the dandelion and the thistle are blown by the wind; burdock, cocklebur, and carrot fruits have barbs or hooks that cling to fur and clothing; and the buoyant coconut may float thousands of miles from its parent tree. Some fruits (e.g., witch hazel and violet) explode at maturity, scattering their seeds. A common method of dispersion is through the feces of animals that eat fleshy fruits containing seeds covered by indigestible coats.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


A matured carpel or group of carpels (the basic units of the gynoecium or female part of the flower) with or without seeds, and with or without other floral or shoot parts (accessory structures) united to the carpel or carpels. Carpology is the study of the morphology and anatomy of fruits. The ovary develops into a fruit after fertilization and usually contains one or more seeds, which have developed from the fertilized ovules. Parthenocarpic fruits usually lack seeds. Fruitlets are the small fruits or subunits of aggregate or multiple fruits. Flowers, carpels, ovaries, and fruits are, by definition, restricted to the flowering plants (angiosperms), although fruitlike structures may enclose seeds in certain other groups of seed plants. The fruit is of ecological significance because of seed dispersal. See Seed


A fruit develops from one or more carpels. Usually only part of the gynoecium, the ovary, develops into a fruit; the style and stigma wither. Accessory (extracarpellary or noncarpellary) structures may be closely associated with the carpel or carpels and display various degrees of adnation (fusion) to them, thus becoming part of the fruit. Such accessory parts include sepals (as in the mulberry), the bases of sepals, petals, and stamens united into a floral tube (apple, banana, pear, and other species with inferior ovaries), the receptacle (strawberry), the pedicel and receptacle (cashew), the peduncle (fleshy part of the fig), the involucre composed of bracts and bracteoles (walnut and pineapple), and the inflorescence axis (pineapple). See Flower

A fruit derived from only carpellary structures is called a true fruit, or, because it develops from a superior ovary (one inserted above the other floral parts), a superior fruit (corn, date, grape, plum, and tomato). Fruits with accessory structures are called accessory (or inaptly, false or spurious) fruits (pseudocarps), or, because of their frequent derivation from inferior ovaries (inserted below the other floral parts), inferior fruits (banana, pear, squash, and walnut).

Fruits can be characterized by the number of ovaries and flowers forming the fruit. A simple fruit is derived form one ovary, an aggregate fruit from several ovaries of one flower (magnolia, rose, and strawberry). A multiple (collective) fruit is derived from the ovaries and accessory structures of several flowers consolidated into one mass (fig, pandan, pineapple, and sweet gum).

The fruit wall at maturity may be fleshy or, more commonly, dry. Fleshy fruits range from soft and juicy to hard and tough. Dry fruits may be dehiscent, opening to release seeds, or indehiscent, remaining closed and containing usually one seed per fruit. Fleshy fruits are rarely dehiscent.

The pericarp is the fruit wall developed from the ovary. In true fruits, the fruit wall and pericarp are synonymous, but in accessory fruits the fruit wall includes the pericarp plus one or more accessory tissues of various derivation. Besides the fruit wall, a fruit contains one or more seed-bearing regions (placentae) and often partitions (septa).


Anatomically or histologically, a fruit consists of dermal, ground (fundamental), and vascular systems and, if present, one or more seeds. After fertilization the ovary and sometimes accessory parts develop into the fruit; parthenocarpy is fruit production without fertilization. The fruit generally increases in size and undergoes various anatomical changes that usually relate to its manner of dehiscence, its mode of dispersal, or protection of its seeds. The economically important, mainly fleshy fruits have received the most histological and developmental study.

Size increase of fruits is hormonally controlled and results from cell division and especially from cell enlargement. Cell number, volume, and weight thus control fruit weight. Cell division generally is more pronounced before anthesis (full bloom); cell enlargement is more pronounced after.

Functional aspects

Large fruits generally require additional anatomical modifications for nutrition or support or both. The extra phloem in fruit vascular bundles and the often increased amount of vascular tissue in the fruit wall and septa supply nutrients to the developing seeds and, especially in fleshy fruits, to the developing walls. Large, especially fleshy fruits (apple, gourd, and kiwi) usually contain proportionally more vascular tissue than small fruits. Vascular tissue also serves for support and in lightweight fruits may be the chief means of support.

Crystals, tannins, and oils commonly occur in fruits and may protect against pathogens and predators. The astringency of tannins, for example, may be repellent to organisms. With fruit maturation, tannin content ordinarily decreases, so the tannin repellency operative in early stages is superseded in fleshy fruits by features (tenderness, succulence, sweetness through odor and increased sugar content, and so on) attractive to animal dispersal agents. Many fruits are dispersed by hairs, hooks, barbs, spines, and sticky mucilage adhering the fruit to the surface of the dispersal agent. Lightweight fruits with many air spaces or with wings or plumes may be dispersed by wind or water. Gravity is always a factor in dispersal of fruits and seeds.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an organ of angiospermous plants that arises from the flower and serves to form, protect, and disseminate the seeds enclosed in it. The fruit is formed after fertilization (except for parthenocarpous fruit). In the more primitive plants, such as Ranunculaceae, the fruit originates only from an expanded and modified gynoecium that is attached to the torus. Its formation occurs without the participation of the other organs making up the flower. In the process of evolution, owing to the development of adaptations for the protection and dissemination of seeds, the following floral parts acquired ever greater importance in fruit formation: the torus (strawberry), gynophore (Capparis, Caryo-phyllaceae), perianth (sugar beet, mulberry), calyx (henbane), corolla and stamens (clover), hypanthium of leaf origin (apple), flowering glumes and lemmas (grasses), and bracts (orache). The outer part of the fruit is the pericarp. The seeds develop inside the fruit in nidi and on enations (placentas).

In many classifications, a distinction is usually made between true fruit (formed from the expanded ovary) and accessory, or spurious, fruits (formed from the ovary and additional floral parts). True fruits include simple fruits, formed from a single pistil, and aggregate fruits, formed from a multiple apocarpous gynoecium. Simple fruits are designated according to the consistency of the pericarp as being either dry or fleshy. Dry fruits may be polyspermous dehiscent (follicle, legume, silique, utricle, capsule, pyxidium), polyspermous indehiscent (segmented bean, segmented pod), schizocarpic (double-winged fruit, cremocarp), and monospermous indehiscent (nut, nutlet, samara, achene, caryopsis). Fleshy fruits include those that are polyspermous (berry, pepo, pome, hesperidium, balausta) and those that are monospermous (drupe). Aggregate fruits proceeding from the names of simple fruits include aggregate follicles, aggregate achenes, and aggregate drupes.

More modern morphogenetic classifications of fruits take into account the aggregate of characters that are important in elucidating evolution: the structure of the gynoecium; the character and degree of participation of organs other than the gynoecium in fruit formation; the number, distribution, and means of concrescence of the carpels; and the number of seeds and their type of attachment. Morphogenetic classifications make a distinction between apocarpous fruits (formed from nonconcresced pistils) and coenocarpous fruits (formed from a gamophyllous gynoecium).

Coenocarpous fruits may be syncarpous (bilocular or multi-locular, with axile placentation), paracarpous (unilocular, with parietal placentation), or lysicarpous (unilocular, with free central placentation). Depending on the degree of participation of various nonpistillate organs in fruit formation, the fruit may be naked, have a spathe or a sheath, or be submerged. Its position with respect to the ovary is said to be superior, inferior, or half-inferior.

Apocarpous fruits are the most primitive. The parent type is considered the naked superior spiral multifollicular fruit (globe-flower). In the process of evolution, as a result of a decrease in the number of carpels, the parent type developed into pentafol-licular, trifollicular, bifollicular, and unifollicular fruits (monkshood, larkspur). A change in the relative positions of the carpels resulted in the evolution of a cyclical multiple fruit (Cras-sulaceae), and the formation of a fleshy pericarp resulted in a fleshy multiple fruit (lemon tree). A decrease in the number of seeds to one led to the formation of a multiple nutlet (Ranunculus). Similarly, a decrease in the number of carpels in the fleshy multifollicular fruit resulted in the formation of a fleshy unifollicle (baneberry) and mononutlet (hornwort). Also descended from the multifollicular fruit is the typical legume, which has a different number of carpels. The legume dehisces not only along its ventral suture but also along its middle vein. The multiple drupe (raspberry) possibly descended from the multiple fruit as a result of a decrease in the number of seeds and a change in the consistency of the pericarp, whereas the single drupe (cherry) apparently evolved in the same way from the pentafolli-cle. Caryopses (Gramineae), which are closely related to the fruits of certain palms, are often included among apocarpous fruits.

Syncarpous fruits probably arose from cyclical multiple fruits as a result of the concrescence of the carpels. The superior syncarpous capsule—a collective fruit—was formed from the superior ovary. As a result of change in the method of dehiscence, there arose the rhegma (spurge) and the sterigma (Geranium). The carcerulus (linden) arose as a result of underdevelopment of the nidi and all the ovules but one. Underdevelopment of all the ovules except two resulted in the formation of the samara (maple). The formation of a false septum in the nidi and of four monospermous outgrowths of the pericarp (eremi) led to the origin of the coenobium (Boraginaceae, Labiatae), and the evolution of a fleshy pericarp led to the formation of numerous syncarpous berries (grapes, lily of the valley, nightshade), syncarpous drupes (Rhamnus), and hesperidia (citrus fruits). From the inferior ovary there developed the inferior syncarpous capsule (Iridaceae), the pomegranate, the acorn (oak), the nut (filbert), the pome (apple), the inferior syncarpous berry (honeysuckle), the inferior syncarpous drupe (elder), the cremocarp (Umbelliferae), and the diachene (Rubiaceae).

Paracarpous fruits originated from syncarpous fruits or directly from apocarpous fruits (for example, the poppy head in the poppy). To these belong the superior paracarpous capsule (violet), the siliqua and silicle (Cruciferae), the paracarpous berry (Capparis), and the drupe (palms). The caryopsis of Gramineae is often also assigned to this group. Inferior paracarpous fruits include the inferior paracarpous capsule (Orchidaceae), the achene (Compositae), and the pepo (Cucurbitaceae). Lysicarpous fruits are descended from syncarpous ones. They include the lysicarpous capsule (Caryophyllaceae, Primulaceae), the pyxidium (Anagallis), and the drupe (Myrsinaceae).

The fruits of a plant protect and disseminate seeds. Before maturation, the pericarp protects the seeds from desiccation, mechanical injury, and consumption by animals. (During this period the seeds often accumulate poisonous, acidic, or astringent substances, which disappear when the fruit ripens.) The pericarp of indehiscent fruits protects mature seeds from being eaten or from sprouting prematurely. The distribution of fruits is effected by wind, water, animals, and man. Fruits distributed by wind (anemochory) have adaptations that facilitate flight: a pappus (Compositae), a feathery tail (Clematis, Dryas), winglike appendages (maple, elm), or a bract of the inflorescence (linden). In the pericarps of fruits distributed by water (hydrochory) air-bearing tissue and cavities develop, or external appendages that hold air form (sedge and many aquatic plants). Fruits equipped with such clinging appendages as hooks, bristles, or thorns (stickseed, carrot) adhere to animals and to human clothing. Fruits with fleshy appendages (melick, some sedges) are distributed by ants (myrmechory), and fruits that have a fleshy pericarp are distributed by birds (ornithochory) or other animals that eat fruit (zoochory). Man also participates in the distribution of fruits, both consciously and unconsciously. The fruits of weeds and some other plants are transported as contaminants in planting material and in organic fertilizers. Cultivating and transport equipment also disseminate fruits.

Many fruits contain large quantities of the most important nutritional substances (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins). They constitute an essential part of the diet in fresh, canned, or processed form. Many are used as livestock feed or as a source of medicinal substances and dyes. The fruits of weeds contaminate soil, decrease the quality of commercial and forage grains, and may cause poisoning. The morphological characteristics of fruits enable identification of plant species. The science of fruits is carpology.


Mal’tsev, A. I. Rukovodstvo po izucheniiu i opredeleniiu semian i plodov sornykh rastenii, part 1. Leningrad, 1925.
Kaden, N. N. “Geneticheskaia klassifikatsiia plodov.” Vestn: MGU, 1947, no. 12.
Kaden, N. N. “K voprosu o lozhnykh plodakh.” Vestn: MGU, 1947, no. 12.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. Morfologicheskaia evoliutsiia pokrytosemennykh. Moscow, 1948.
Levina, R. E. Sposoby rasprostraneniia plodov i semian. Moscow, 1957.
Levina, R. E. Plody. Saratov, 1967.
Dobrokhotov, V. N. Semena sornykh rastenii. Moscow, 1961.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. Osnovy evoliutsionnoi morfologiipokrytosemennykh. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Mannagetta, G. P., A. Pascher, and F. Phol. “Frucht und Same.” In Handwörterbuch der Naturwissenschaften, 2nd ed., vol. 4. Jena, 1934.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about fruit?

Fruits are complex symbols, representing everything from transcendence, to the self, to abundance, to spiritual knowledge. (See entries on particular fruits for more information.) The dreaming mind often literalizes common verbal expressions in an effort to convey something to the conscious mind, so fruit dreams can also indicate anything along the lines of “first fruits,” “forbidden fruit,” “fruitcake,” and so on.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


A fully matured plant ovary with or without other floral or shoot parts united with it at maturity.
Radar-beacon-system video display of a synchronous beacon return which results when several interrogator stations are located within the same general area; each interrogator receives its own interrogated reply as well as many synchronous replies resulting from interrogation of the airborne transponders by other ground stations.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Botany the ripened ovary of a flowering plant, containing one or more seeds. It may be dry, as in the poppy, or fleshy, as in the peach
2. any fleshy part of a plant, other than the above structure, that supports the seeds and is edible, such as the strawberry
3. the specialized spore-producing structure of plants that do not bear seeds
4. any plant product useful to man, including grain, vegetables, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Fruit represents abundance and prosperity. As a result of the seeds that they carry, they may also represent new beginnings. In biblical stories, mythology, and literature in general, fruits have enjoyed much symbolic meaning. They may represent sexual desires and the search for wealth and immortality. In order to understand the meaning of the fruit in your dreams, consider your current strivings and psychological space. Also, consider whether the fruit was ripe, rotting, or bitter. All of the details will help you to understand whether you have a lustful heart, are at a new frontier, or have missed opportunities for growth and pleasure.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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