The Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable
Everyone knows that the tomato is a fruit. When asked why, most people will tell you that it’s because the tomato has seeds. However most vegetable producing plants do in fact produce seeds. Seeds are in fact most vegetables main method of reproduction. Most children will tell you that fruits are sweet, while vegetables are more savory and gross. Most adults know that this is not true and that there are many delicious and sweet vegetables. What then is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? To help inform you, we have written this article covering the main features that make fruits and vegetables different.
The Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable: Seeds
When most people tell you that a tomato is a fruit because it’s a plant with seeds, they’re wrong, but they’re not far off track. One difference between a fruit and a vegetable is that the actual fruit (the fleshy part) must contain seeds.
Fruits are produced after a flowering plant is pollinated. The plant produces a zygotic embryo which it places in a seed. The fruit is the flesh that grows the seed around and helps to protect and transport it.
Many vegetable plants (carrots and onions, for example) actually do produce seeds, but we usually eat the plant before it has a chance to develop flowers and eventually seeds. The part of vegetable plants that we eat are the stems, leaves, roots or tubers and therefore do not contain seeds.
The Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable: Reason for Growing
Another conspicuous difference between a fruti and a vegetable, is the evolutionary reason the parent plant grows them. Fruits produce fruit to help transport their seeds, and grow new plants in different areas. Fruits are specifically designed to be eaten by animals who then ingest the seeds and defacate them out in a (hopefully) distant area. The animals fecal material provides natural fertilization for the plant.
The reason that vegetables grow vary from plant to plant. In some plants the purpose is to help increase surface area for photosynthesis, in others (especially root and tuber plants) the purpose is energy storage, and in still others they serve as a method of reproduction (for plants who can reproduce through budding).
The Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable: Sugar levels
Probably the most apparent (at least to humans) difference between a fruit and a vegetable are their relative sugar levels. Fruits tend to be much sweeter than vegetables. This is because fruits usually contain high levels of the sugar fructose, in order to encourage animals to eat them. Vegetables, who do not particularly need animals to eat them, invest less fructose in their fleshy parts.