- Berries or Fruit
- Bananas Are Berries
- Fruit vs. Berries Difference
- Drupes and Berries the Same?
- Fruits That Are Berries
- Can Bananas Be Called Berries?
Are bananas berries or fruits?
If you’ve ever raised your eyebrows when one of your friends said that bananas are berries, then you’ll be surprised to know that they were right. You won’t be the first person to be confused by this.
Although bananas are commonly thought of as being fruits but not berries, there’s a lot of confusion about this.
In this article, we look at whether bananas are berries and understand how to differentiate between fruits and berries.
By definition, fruits are the parts of a flowering plant that grow from the ovary. These fruits usually contain the seed and protect them until they’re distributed effectively. The fruit family has multiple subgroups like berries, citrus, stone fruits, and pomes.
Berries are defined as fruits that grow from one flower and one ovary but which have several seeds. According to this definition, bananas are actually berries. Bananas have several seeds inside them that look like black spots once they’re peeled. They look so tiny that many people eat them without even noticing their presence.
The subgroups of the fruit family are determined based on the part of the flower ovary from which the skin, flesh, and seeds of the fruit grow. To give you another example, strawberries and raspberries are not berries according to a botanical definition. To make things even more interesting, avocados, pumpkins, and cucumbers are also considered berries.
Berries typically have three parts, called the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. Together, these three layers are called the pericarp. The pericarp is formed from the ovary of a flower.
The exocarp is the fruit skin that, in many cases – like grapes – is edible. In other cases, it’s not edible (like the peel of a banana).
The mesocarp is the central fleshy layer of the fruit that we generally eat, such as apples or plums. In other fruits, especially citrus fruits, the mesocarp is the thin white layer around the central fleshy part that we peel off.
The innermost layer is the endocarp, which typically surrounds the seeds of the fruit. People usually fail to notice the endocarp in many fruits because they’re very thin, like that found in bananas.
To be considered a berry, the fruit should grow from a single ovary, have a soft exocarp and a fleshy mesocarp, and the endocarp should contain one or more seeds. Bananas meet all these conditions, which is why (botanically speaking) they’re classified as berries.
Why are bananas considered berries?
Whenever you think of berries, the first image that comes to your mind is that of small fruits such as strawberries or raspberries. You’ll be surprised to know, though, that these fruits are not considered berries.
This is because fruits like strawberries grow from flowers with multiple ovaries instead of a single ovary. That’s why you find them in thick clusters that are called stems.
On the other hand, bananas and other fruits that fall under the umbrella of berries but are rarely ever called so. This may seem confusing, but it becomes easier once you understand how these fruits got their names. Most of the fruits that are today called berries got their names hundreds of years before scientists and botanists would classify the fruits into separate groups and define a hierarchy or a nomenclature.
Not many people are aware of the scientific names given to many fruits and berries. Also, since certain fruits were already named as berries – even though they are botanically not so – they continue to be called by their common names instead of the scientific names given to them.
Another factor that has added to the confusion is that many botanists themselves are not on the same page when it comes to the classification of certain fruits and berries. That’s why many fruits continue to be referred to as such even though they’re more specifically categorized as berries.
What’s the difference between fruits and berries?
The term “fruit” is used to refer to the sweet parts of the flowering plants. Fruits are the reproductive organ of flowering plants, and their main function is to make sure that they distribute the seeds in such a way that the plant multiplies.
Fruits are broadly grouped into two types – fleshy and dry. Dry fruits are those that are commonly not considered fruits, such as legumes and nuts. Fleshy fruits, on the other hand, are those that we usually consider fruits. These include fruits such as apples, cherries, and bananas.
Fleshy fruits are further divided into three groups called simple fruits, multiple fruits, and stems. Berries fall under the simple fleshy fruits group. An easy way to remember this is that all berries are fruits, but not all fruits are berries.
Most fruits grow from the ovary, which is a type of female reproductive part of a flower.
It’s this definition that also puts fruits like strawberries and raspberries out of the group of berries. Strawberries are the juicy red parts that grow on the thick part of the stem.
Each so-called strawberry that’s commonly considered a fruit is called an achene that contains a single seed, whereas the little greenish-yellow parts that are usually considered the seeds are in fact individual fruits.
Such fruits that grow in an aggregated form or are present in clusters are not considered berries by botanists.
Another variation to note in some fruits is the presence of a tough pit that grows from the inside of the ovary and encloses a single seed within it. Botanists believe that the purpose of the pit, which is absent in berries, is to protect the seed. Such fruits are called drupes.
A few popular examples of drupes are peaches and plums.
Most berries contain several seeds within them. Although some berries contain a single seed, these seeds are not contained in a hard endocarp such as those seen in drupes.
All these reasons are why bananas are commonly referred to as “fruits” instead of using specific botanical names such as “berries” and “drupes,” which might add to the confusion.
Are drupes and berries the same
Fruits such as dates, palms, and pecans are all considered drupes due to the tough, seed-covering endocarp that they have.
Some fruits such as walnuts, pistachios, and macadamias that are commonly known as nuts are also called drupaceous nuts.
The coconut, which botanically speaking falls under the group of drupes, is a dry drupe. It has a green, water-repellent outer layer (in this case, the exocarp), a bulky, cartilaginous husk (the mesocarp), and a solid, wooden inner layer (endocarp) that protects its large seed.
Coconut milk, which is rich in several essential nutrients, is a liquid endosperm that has failed to develop into tissues. That said, there is still much debate about the classification of many fruits and the basis according to which the fruit is classified.
To cite an example, according to the California Macadamia Society, macadamia nuts fall under the group of follicles. Much research needs to be done in this aspect to bring about a seamless classification system.
As explained before, drupes usually have a fleshy fruit part and a tough core that usually contains only one seed. On the other hand, berries have a soft inner layer (endosperm) that covers the seeds, of which there could be many.
What other fruits are berries?
Bananas are not the only fruit whose botanical classification causes much confusion. Many other such examples are commonly considered fruits but are berries, as per their botanical classifications.
Some examples that are usually a cause for confusion are tomatoes, grapes, kiwis, avocados, peppers, eggplants, and guavas. As in the case of bananas, all the fruits and vegetables mentioned here are technically berries, since they all grow from flowers that have a single ovary, contain a fleshy central part, and have one or more seeds.
However, in everyday practice, they are not thought of as berries and are identified as fruits and vegetables.
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Can bananas be called berries?
Yes. To be scientifically accurate, bananas are berries, whereas strawberries and raspberries aren’t.
Berries are a subgroup under the broad category of fruits. They are the sweet, fleshy, seed-bearing part of a flowering plant. Bananas grow from the single ovary of a flower and contain small seeds in their innermost layer, a meaty midsection, and a soft inedible outer layer.
Scientifically speaking, bananas are berries, but since all berries are fruits, you won’t be wrong if you call a banana a fruit or a berry.
Another point to consider is that all the fruits mentioned here are indehiscent, which means that they don’t split at maturity. This is another way of identifying whether a fruit is a berry or not, as berries don’t split when they mature.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Banana Label Catalog: "Is a banana a fruit, berry, or vegetable?"
Colorado State University: "Everything You Need to Know: Is That a Berry?"
McGill University: "Bananas are Berries. Raspberries are Not."
Palomar Community College: "Identification Of Major Fruit Types."
Stanford Magazine: "Bananas Are Berries?"