From Tomatoes to Peas: Is It a Fruit or a Vegetable?

From Tomatoes to Peas: Is It a Fruit or a Vegetable?

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Do you know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Can you identify with certainty whether something is classified as a fruit or a vegetable?

Is the tomato a fruit? What about the cucumber? Is it a fruit or a vegetable?

They are both examples of fruits! Yes, fruits. Shocked? Many plants are commonly considered vegetables but are in fact fruits.

In botanical terms, fruit grows on a plant and it is the medium for the seeds of the plant to be spread out in the world. This simply means that the fruit is a type of reproductive part of the plant.

Vegetables are other edible parts of the plant, such as its flower buds (like broccoli), roots (like carrots), leaves (like spinach) or even the stems.

In culinary terms, fruits are generally sweet while vegetables tend to be savoury. But, how a product is categorised by a botanist can vary significantly from how the consumers classify it. And this is what results in some fruits getting mislabelled as vegetables. So, let's find out examples of some commonly misconceived fruits and how to tell if they are a fruit or a vegetable.


1. Tomato 

Photo by: Huzeyfe Turan on Unsplash Tomato plant, fruit or vegetable?

A tomato branch with the fruit

Tomatoes are the best example of a fruit mistaken for a vegetable. How do you decide if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable? Since it contains seeds, it is considered a fruit in the botanical sense.

However, for all other purposes, they are treated as a vegetable. Even the US Supreme Court in 1893 ruled that tomatoes are vegetables based on their usage and consumer behaviour and should therefore face the higher import taxes imposed on vegetables.


2. Peppers


Photo by: Vino Li on Unsplash

Bell Peppers, a fruit 

Is a pepper a fruit or a vegetable? All peppers, from bell pepper to jalapenos, belong to the Solanaceae family and are technically fruits.


3. Pumpkins

Photo by: Keenan Sultanik on Unsplash

 Pumpkin plant classified as fruits, not vegetables

They are full of seeds and are therefore fruits rather than vegetables. They are a type of squash and are closely related to the cucumber.


4. Cucumbers


Photo by: Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

Cucumbers - a fruit! 

The cucumber belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants and is therefore a fruit in the technical sense.


5. Peas


Photo by: Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash

Peas are a fruit! 

It may be a bit tricky to say whether a pea pod is a fruit or a vegetable, and here's why. The pea-pods are fruits that surround the seeds of the plant that are used to reproduce, the peas!

Thus, they are classified as fruits by botanists contrary to the common perception that they are vegetables.


6. Eggplant

Photo by: Quin Engle on Unsplash

Eggplant is a berry!

Commonly known as Brinjal in India, Eggplant, which belongs to the Solanaceae family or the potato family, is also not a vegetable. Botanists categorise it to be a berry. That is because, unlike potato which is a tuber, Brinjal has small, edible seeds.


7. Okra


Photo by: Neha Deshmukh on Unsplash

Okra is a fruit

This is one of the most mistaken fruits which is believed to be a vegetable. However, the part that is eaten is actually a pod and contains seeds. Therefore, technically, Okra is one of the most nutritious fruits rich in fibre, potassium and Vitamin C.


8. Olives


Photo by: Janine Joles on Unsplash

Olives - fruit or vegetable?

Have you ever wondered if an olive is a fruit or a vegetable? Despite being savoury, olives are actually fruits similar to peaches, mangoes and dates. They are formed from the ovary of a flower and contain seeds in their pits.


9. Avocados


Photo by: Gil Ndjouwou on Unsplash

Avocado - a misidentified fruit

In botanical terms, an Avocado is a single-seeded berry.

This is because it has three layers surrounding its single seed – the peel, the edible flesh and a very thin layer called an endocarp that protects its seed.

If the endocarp was thicker and in the form of a pit, like in peaches, then it would have been classified as a fruit.


10. Corn


Photo by: Katherine Volkovski on Unsplash

Corn - fruit or grain? 

This is another highly mistaken plant. Farmers treat it like a grain like wheat while consumers consider it a vegetable while cooking.

Technically it is a fruit since it originates from a plant’s seed. However, each corn kernel is an ovary containing a single seed that the corn plant uses to reproduce.

Therefore, each of these kernels is considered a grain making corn a dry fruit!


11. Zucchini


Photo by: Herbert Goetsch on Unsplash

 Zucchini - a berry!

Belonging to the gourd family, Zucchini masquerades as a vegetable. But similar to pumpkins and cucumber it is technically a berry!


12. Chickpeas


Photo by: Deryn Macey on Unsplash

Chickpea - fruit or vegetable? 

Just like peas, they belong to the legume family and are seeds that come in pods. Therefore, they are another example of a fruit that is eaten as a vegetable.


13. Green Beans


Photo by: Cyrus Crossan on Unsplash

Green Beans are a fruit!

Similar to chickpeas, these are also a pod containing seeds. They should therefore be classified as a fruit but are eaten as a vegetable.


14. Rhubarb


Photo by: Edson Rosas on Unsplash

Rhubarb is a vegetable! 

Unlike the other plants described so far, this is a vegetable masquerading as a fruit.

Legally classified as a fruit due to its sweetness and despite being a popular dessert ingredient, it is a perennial vegetable! This is because it is only the stems and stalks of the plant that are eaten.

Buy Vegetable Seeds Online 

No matter the use and the popular opinion, it is always interesting to know whether a plant is technically a fruit or a vegetable. So at the next gathering, test the knowledge of your friends and family and leaves them flabbergasted with your knowledge of some of these amazing plants!

Buy Fruit Seeds Online

But despite their categorisation, all these plants are rich in nutrients and make our dining experience richer and more flavourful. So, start with planting your organic garden and shop at Ugaoo.



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