Definition of Fruit and Vegetable - Knowledgebase Question

Fort Worth, TX
Question by jhoward85
December 16, 1997
What is the exact difference between a fruit and a vegetable? ie; why is a tomato a fruit, while a cucumber is a vegetable?


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Answer from NGA
December 16, 1997

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Botanically, a fruit is an enlarged ovary with attached parts. Fruits evolved to protect and nourish their enclosed seeds (though we now have some varieties of seedless fruits!) Vegetables are plant parts other than the reproductive structures, such as leaves, stems, and roots.

Horticulturally (and in more common terms), a fruit is a plant part that are commonly eaten as a dessert or snack. Tomatoes, peppers and beans are botanically fruits, but we consider them vegetables. Rhubarb is a vegetable but we consider it a fruit. Avocados are botanically and horticulturally a fruit, but we consider them vegetables and use them in salads. Isn't this fun?? By the way, cucumbers are technically fruits!

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