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Alongside the apple, strawberries are one of the most popular fruits that Germans eat as a snack. They spoil the taste buds on the tongue with their characteristic sweetness and are extremely healthy. In typical parlance, the name of the plant would suggest berries, but the strawberry is something else entirely and difficult to categorize without disregarding familiar vocabulary.
Botany provides information
All plants and the associated parts such as leaves, flowers and fruiting bodies can be identified via botany. For this reason, these points need to be looked at more closely in order to be able to define whether strawberries are a fruit, a fruit or even a vegetable? According to botanical concepts, the strawberry is a false fruit, in the narrower sense an aggregate fruit. The term achenes would be even more precise, but these are only the small yellowish nuts on the fragaria (botanical for strawberry). Listed here again for better understanding.
- Fruiting as a false fruit
- The false fruit has nutlets on the developed flower base (pulp) of the aggregate nut fruit
- Nutlets of the aggregate nut fruit are called achenes
Since the red flesh of strawberries is not the actual fruiting body, but a carrier for the nuts on the surface, a strawberry is a fruit. Not the pulp is responsible for the classification here, but the nuts. These are the actual fruits of the plant and are therefore classified as a nut. Obst would also apply here, since fruit in the understanding of the German language is a collective term that includes all fruits of the following species groups.
- Nuts (including strawberries, also sweet chestnuts or acorns)
- stone fruit
- pome fruit
- soft fruit
- exotic fruits
So the strawberry can be counted as a fruit because it forms a pseudofruit with nuts that can be eaten raw and is harmless to humans. It is interesting to note that strawberries are also one of the fruits that come from the order Rosales. Much of the fruit belongs to this order, including rose hips, apples and pears. Of course, it can simply be described as a fruit, which would correspond exactly to the botanical affiliation. Here again the individual parts of the strawberry fruit are listed.
- aggregate fruit
Notice: While the German language makes it extremely difficult to differentiate between fruits and types of fruit, this is not the case in English, for example. Strawberries count as "fruit" here, as do apples, melons, tomatoes or grains of wheat, since there is no separate term for types of fruit.
What are aggregate fruits?
The false fruits of two types of plants are referred to as collective nuts.
These form from the bottom of the flower and do not require any other parts of the plant. When the strawberry blossoms pass from the flowering period to the formation of the fruit, the yellow base of the blossom arches more and more and changes the color from a light green to the well-known, rich red. During this time, the threads of the base of the blossom have formed into the closed nutlets, the achenes formed by the strawberry. This growth form has evolved to attract animals such as deer or insects, which eat the pulp and thereby also swallow the nuts. These are then excreted again and so the strawberry continues to multiply.
What are achenes?
The achenes are the nut of the strawberry plant. Achenes are closed fruits that are only connected to the pulp by a thin layer. Other plants besides strawberries also have achenes, just in a different form.
- Ordinary cocklebur
They have the advantage that they can easily be carried further, whether by the wind or, as in the case of the strawberry, after being eaten by living beings. This is why they have such a thin pericarp. Since the nuts of the strawberries are protected due to their hardness, no hard pericarp is required to protect them from external influences. In the case of strawberries, achenes are among the nut fruits, which further reinforces their classification as fruit.
But no vegetables?
Again and again the argument comes up that strawberries are vegetables because the fruits are nuts. Since these are visible on the pulp and this represents the largest visible part of the fruit, it is often counted among the fruit vegetables. The reason for this is the German language, which uses fruits to describe all parts of plants that can be used and consumed by humans. But here the difference is also botanically clear: while only the fruiting bodies of individual species are used in fruit, for example the apple of a tree, many other parts are also used in vegetables, for example the roots.
Notice: Also confusing is the assumption that nuts are vegetables because they are used only incidentally by humans. They are mostly prepared before consumption and are not a major part of the diet, which could be a possible assumption for classifying strawberries as a vegetable.