Wondering what fruits are actually berries ? You’re not alone. Lots of folks are pretty confused after hearing that some vegetables are actually fruits, and some berries aren’t real berries.
So I’ve compiled this list of the most common fruits that are considered berries, but I won’t leave it at that.
I’ll also give you the definition of a botanical berry, so you can judge for yourself if you ever come across something that’s not on this list.
So what fruits are berries ?
The list is long and honestly kind of surprising.
This is mostly because berries are really all over the place. What we normally think of as berries doesn’t apply to everything on this list.
And to complicate matters even more, nearly everything we see at a farmer’s market is technically a fruit, including vegetables.
So hold onto your hats, this list is all over the place.
To begin, all relatives of the cucumber are a berry. So cucumber, courgette/zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, watermelon, honeymelon and other such …vegetables ? are actually berries.
All nightshade ‘fruits’ are actually berries as well, starting with tomatoes, pepper, bell peppers, and includes potatoes. Please note that the potato itself is not a berry, since what we eat is the root. The fruit/berry of the potato is a berry, but is not edible.
Bananas are also berries, as are grapes and pretty much all currant variants – blackcurrant, red currants, white currants – and its cousins. So gooseberries, elderberries, cranberries, crowberry, Oregon grape, blueberry, bearberry and holly are berries as well.
The beloved avocado is a berry too, though some may get technical and call it s drupe.
All citrus fruits are berries as well, so that includes oranges, lemons, mandarins, clementines, grapefruits, kumquats, limes, pomelo and any other variations.
And to top things off, we should not forget about the kiwi fruit. It, too, is a berry, along with the starfruit and dragon fruit.
This list is pretty strange, and it might just sound like it’s entirely made up.
Bear with me, because there’s a very good reason those food items are on this list, and we’ll get to it in a minute.
Some vegetables are actually berries
You’ve probably noticed that about half the berries on the list above are actually vegetables.
The thing is, vegetables do not exist as a botanical category. All seed bearing food items are fruits. This includes pretty much everything you could think of, including veggies.
And some of those veggies are berries, like the cucumber and its cousins, along with tomato and peppers.
Alright, let’s talk about why those fruit and veg are one this berry list, since it will make everything much clearer.
What are berries, really ?
Botanical berries are pretty specific, but it just happens that lots of fruit and veg happen to meet the criteria.
A berry is the result of a single ovary, from a single flower. The resulting fruit has 3 layers – exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp, and will contain the seed on the inside.
The important part here is the ‘single ovary from a single flower’. It’s why a strawberry isn’t a berry, but why a banana or blueberry is.
Here’s a banana flower, it’s one of the most alien things you’ll see. If you look at the end of the bananas, you’ll notice the darkened, dried flowers.
In the photo on the left, you’ll see the bananas aren’t fully grown yet, and there’s a set of new flowers beginning to grow.
Bananas and blueberries – each individual fruit – come from one single flower. Even if the flowers are all bunched up, one flower will make just one fruit.
This is why some berries are in bunches, like currants and grapes and tomatoes.
Some berries aren’t even berries !
Strawberries, for example, are not berries although they’re commonly thought of as berries.
This is because when you look at a strawberry flower, you’ll notice it has several ovaries. Actually, it’s got a cluster of ovaries and the actual seeds are kinda hidden.
The seeds are inside the green ‘seeds’ on the outside of the red flesh. Which means that really, the seeds are inside the seeds, and the red flesh is really the equivalent of a branch from which the fruits would hang.
Raspberries and blackberries are not true berries either. They’re aggregate fruit, since each individual cell/segment contains a seed and is in fact a single fruit.
Each flower has a cluster of ovaries, much like strawberries, just that when matured it’s segmented.
But all berries are fruits
All that being said, absolutely every item on the list in this article is also a fruit.
So you’ll notice that not all fruits are berries, but all berries are fruits.
And as long as the resulting food item contains at least one seed, stone, pit or way for the plant to produce offspring, it’s a fruit. At least, botanically.
Berries are really a confusing topic for so many folks, and rightly so. Culinary berries are one thing, while botanical berries are…well, they’re pretty much everywhere.
So I hope this list of food items and food types that are actual, true berries helped you figure things out.
If you’ve got any food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.