Have you ever looked down at your strawberry as you took a bite and thought to yourself, “what if those aren’t seeds after all?”
Probably not, because they look like seeds, and it makes sense they would be seeds, so why would they be anything else?
It turns out that your very innocent-looking fruit has been mocking you all along.
They’re actually achenes and each contain a single seed, as they are the actual fruit of the plant. Strawberries aren’t technically berries, but aggregate fruit, just like raspberries and blackberries, which are also apparently poorly named.
They belong to the same family as roses.
Berries, on the other hand, must contain more than one seed and be made up of an outer skin, a fleshy middle, and an inner casing that holds the seeds. They’re also derived from a single ovary of an individual flower and are made up of two distinct groups.
One is citrus fruits and the other is the pepos group, which contains gourds, cucumbers, and watermelon.
So, what is the red part of the “berry” that we enjoy eating, then?
Well, it’s just swollen receptacle tissue that holds the seeds. In many instances, the fruit swells as it ripens, but in this case, the true fruit separates into small, dry achenes as the receptacle tissue swells instead.
Most strawberry plants are grown from clones that take root when they touch the ground, not from the seeds inside the achene at all.
The other fruits in the aggregate fruit category are outcasts in one way or another, too, so at least strawberries never have to feel alone.
Even if you never thought to ask this question, I bet you feel just that much smarter now that you know the answer.
I know I do!