When you think of berries, your mind probably goes straight to fruits like blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
The surprising thing is, none of these 3 fruits are technically true berries. Another surprising thing is, watermelon might just be more of a berry than they are.
Now, you might be wondering, is a watermelon a berry?
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Is a Watermelon a Berry?
Watermelons are berries. They come from a single ovary, have seeds, and have succulent flesh.
These are just a few of the qualities watermelons meet that allow them to be classified as berries.
For a fruit to be classified as a berry, it must meet certain specifications laid out by botanists. It must come from a single ovary, have seeds, and have succulent flesh. Also, it must have no stone pit.
This article will shed some light on the reasons why a watermelon qualifies as a berry. You’ll also learn about some other fruits you probably didn’t know were berries.
Most people think of berries as only small edible fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
The confusion started years ago, long before botanists came up with the proper classification of fruits.
Back then, people were fond of calling most small fruits berries. But this is inaccurate since some of these fruits are aggregate fruits, not berries.
The part of the plant that develops into a fruit determines the category a fruit belongs to. Some fruits develop from flowers containing one ovary (simple fruits), while others from several ovaries (aggregate fruits and multiple fruits).
All berries are simple fruits, although they vary based on the texture of their exocarp. Some have fleshy exocarps, some have hard exocarps, and some have leathery exocarps.
Fruits commonly have a pericarp, which is divided into 3 parts: exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. The exocarp is the outer part, the mesocarp is the middle part, and the endocarp is the inner part.
Watermelons have thick, hard exocarps. For this reason, they fall into a category of giant berries called Pepos.
Now you know why watermelons are berries. But how can you identify other berries? What exactly is a berry?
What is a Berry?
Botanically, a berry is a simple fruit that typically comes with several seeds and a fleshy pulp formed from just one ovary in one flower.
Berries fall into 2 classes of fruits: simple fruits and fleshy fruits. They are simple fruits because they come from a single ovary, and they are fleshy fruits because of their juicy, succulent interiors.
Fleshy fruits can either be baccate or drupaceous, but berries are baccate. Unlike the baccate types, drupaceous fleshy fruits have a stone-like inner layer containing the seeds.
Berries typically come with two or more seeds in their fleshy parts. They are usually sweet, watery, and brightly colored.
At this point, it is important to mention that strawberries are not berries. This might explain their taste, which is anything but sweet.
Berries do not have distinct middle and inner layers. Both the endocarp and the mesocarp are fleshy, while the outer layer can either be thick or thin.
7 Surprising Fruits That Are Technically Berries
It is understandable if you’re surprised to learn that watermelons are berries since most people do not think of them as such. But, they are not the only surprising inclusion on the list.
The following are some other fruits not commonly considered berries:
Tomatoes have a fleshy pericarp. Obviously, there are many seeds in a tomato. As such, they are also berries.
Bananas are berries too, and while it might appear that they do not have seeds, they actually do.
Banana seeds are prominent in the wild types. But the commercial types have very small seeds, which appear like black dots in the center of the fruit.
Commercial bananas have been genetically modified to improve their taste and texture. This caused their seeds to lose viability and become tiny.
Although you might find some seedless varieties these days, grapes are actually berries, and they have seeds.
The seedless varieties were engineered to make them more desirable to eat. But the seedlessness also makes them less nutritious.
All kinds of kiwis are berries.
Avocado fruits also fit the botanical description of a berry. Although, unlike many other berries, they have just a single large seed at the center.
Not only are eggplants considered fruits, but they also belong to the berry family.
Cucumbers are also part of the berry family, even though they seem more like vegetables. They come from a single ovary and have multiple seeds in their fleshy parts.
Watermelons are formed from a single ovary, and they have fleshy mesocarps & endocarps. They also contain multiple seeds within their fleshy interiors. All of these properties fit the botanical definition of a berry. As such, watermelons are berries.