Are all vegetables with seeds actually fruit?

Fruit or vegetables - what's the difference?

Apples are fruit, cucumbers are vegetables. Even children can clearly assign most of the varieties to the different generic terms. But the assignment is not always as clear as it seems, because there is no clear scientific definition for differentiating between fruit and vegetables.

So what properties must foods have in order to be classified in the respective category? In most cases the assignment is straightforward, but there are astonishing exceptions.

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Annual - perennial

The botanical difference between fruits and vegetables lies in the lifespan of the plant. Fruit is the generic term for fruits and seeds that arise from the flowers of perennial plants. For example, apples grow from the blossoms on an apple tree every year.

Vegetables, on the other hand, are all possible parts of plants that emerge from annual plants. Vegetables can only be harvested once, as the plant dies after one to two years at the latest. Exceptions to this rule are asparagus and artichokes, they are generally considered vegetables, but come from perennial plants.

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Differentiation between fruit and plant parts

All possible edible parts of plants from perennial plants are called vegetables. The carrot is actually the root, spinach is made from the leaves, radishes are made from the tuber, artichokes are made from the flowers and potatoes are made from the tubers. Rhubarb, the red or green stems of the rhubarb plant, can still be found on the fruit shelf.

Fruits are fruits that emerge from the flower of a plant. According to this definition, however, vegetables that are generally clearly assigned to vegetables are tomatoes, courgettes, squash and cucumbers also fruit. The additional category of fruit vegetables was introduced for these exceptional cases.

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Sugar content: sweet or sour

Fruit is usually sweeter than vegetables because of its higher sugar content. Lemons are an interesting exception to this rule: they count as fruit, but are anything but sweet. Carrots, on the other hand, have a sweet taste, especially when cooked, although they are assigned to vegetables.

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Preparation: raw or cooked

Fruit is usually consumed raw, vegetables are usually overcooked. Compotes, apricot dumplings, but also vegetables that are mostly eaten raw such as cucumbers, peppers and kohlrabi reduce this classification to absurdity.

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They are all healthy

Whichever category the different types of fruit and vegetables are assigned to, they have one thing in common: They are all healthy, with a few exceptions they are low in energy and rich in vitamins and fiber.

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Astrid Leitner

Editor at