Fruits and vegetables have many health benefits and are frequently used in culinary dishes in different ways; however, many common botanic fruits are often mistakenly described as vegetables. It may sound arbitrary, but, in 1893, the case of whether a tomato was a fruit or a vegetable was discussed in the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, cultural and culinary traditions often dictate the “classification” of a fruit and a vegetable. However, in botany, the difference between fruits and vegetables is very distinct.
What is a Botanical Fruit?
In botany, a fruit is the part of a plant that contains the seeds. Seeds are part of a plant's reproductive system and a fruit is described as “ripe” when the ovary of the plant has been fertilized. Fruits develop in many different ways, depending on the plant, and may be dry or fleshy. Some plants bear fruit without fertilization through a process called parthenocarpy. In addition, commercial cultivars of fruit are often seedless too, such as bananas and pineapples.
Examples of botanical fruits include oranges, peaches, bell peppers, and tomatoes. However, in common usage, only oranges and peaches are generally “classified” as fruits; bell peppers and tomatoes are usually found in the vegetable produce section of the market.
What is a Botanical Vegetable?
“Vegetable” is a broad term that is used to describe an edible plant which isn't a fruit. It is not recognized as a true botanic term, despite its common usage. Legislation in different parts of the world may interpret vegetables differently depending on taxation and legal requirements.