Vivipary Is a Bizarre Natural Phenomenon That Makes Plants Look Like Aliens

Photo Credit: Reddit, u/bennyhanno

Vegetables and fruits that look like aliens? Yup.

It’s called vivipary. And no, it doesn’t mean the veggies and fruits are dangerous or even really alien-like. Just that something has gone wrong in their growth that causes their appearance to be flawed.

My tomato’s seeds have started to sprout from the inside
byu/BennyHanno inmildlyinteresting

While vivipary is a genetic mutation in plants, it’s actually totally normal in humans, other mammals, and various other members of the animal kingdom. Let me explain.

Vivipary (Latin for “live birth”) in mammals means, “Producing living young instead of eggs from within the body.” Which is what (almost) always happens, right?

But in botany it means: “Reproducing from buds that form plantlets while still attached to the parent plant, or from seeds that germinate within the fruit.”

Take a look at this strawberry.

This strawberry’s seeds started sprouting while it was still on the plant
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See how leaves are sprouting where seeds should be? Crazy!

Apparently those seeds seeds were like, “I’m taking over!” And as a result, they are inhabiting its host parent. Think Sigourney Weaver and Alien, without the violence and blood.

Why does this happen?

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Typically seeds will only reach maturity when dried. This is essentially a seed’s final stage of development, at which point the seed goes dormant. After proper planting and hydration, that seed will grow into a new plant and so on.

In the case of vivipary, the seeds never reach maturity and just go ahead and sprout. It happens “more often after wet weather.”

Why is this an issue?

The seeds in my butternut squash were sprouting on the inside.
byu/freddurst13 inmildlyinteresting

Well, one: it’s weird and gross looking. But this type of mutation can also disrupt harvesting for farmers and companies looking to sell the fruit. Plus, it is a loss of seeds that may be needed for annual cropping – i.e. the viviparous seeds are no longer useful and, therefore, get tossed.


If you spot this common (actually!) mutation at home, you can attempt to grow the already sprouting fruit (though that may or may not work). Also, according to my internet research, fruits and veggies are consumable (though the leaves may not taste so good).

So maybe instead of viewing this as gross, see it as saving grocery money?

Or just a fun weird nature thing.