Monday, December 19, 2011

Fruits

A true fruit is derived solely from the carpel or carpels of a flower after pollination. Some fruits are juicy, but many others are dry when they are ripe and they split open to release their seeds. Pea and bean pods are examples although we eat some of them before they are ripe. Botanists split juicy fruits into several groups. Berries generally have many seed embedded in the soft flesh. Grapes, gooseberries and citrus fruits are familiar examples.
The fruit and vegetables that we eat contain starch, sugar and other foodstuffs that the plants have stored up for their own use. Botanically speaking, fruits are formed from the pollinated flowers of plants. They always contain seeds. The term vegetable is generally used in amore loose way, often simply referring to plants eaten with the main course of the meal. This can cause some confusion. Cucumbers, marrows, peppers and tomatoes are commonly considered vegetables, although to the botanist they are in fact fruits.
Almost juicy fruits are rich in sugar and therefore quite sweet when they are ripe. Some also store starch and oils. These food reserves are not consumed by the plants themselves, but serve to attract animals that eat the flesh and scatter the seed. Most commercial fruits are obtained from trees and shrubs, although some important one, such as strawberries and pineapples, come from herbaceous plants. A few fruits are still gathered mainly from the wild, but the majority is now cultivated in plantations or orchards and, as with the vegetables, many are now larger and tastier than their ancestral forms.