What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?
The simplest definition is a that a fruit is a mature ovary from a flowering plant, and a vegetable is a plant's leaf, stem or root. For example, apples, oranges, bananas, etc. are fruits. But tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, pumpkins, peppers, eggplant, olives etc. are also all fruits (although we often casually call them vegetables). Even foods such as walnuts and almonds are fruit; we eat the seeds.
Lettuce, cabbage, and kale are all vegetables because they are leaves. Celery, rhubarb, and potatoes are stems, and carrots, parsnips, etc. are roots.
Here are a couple of formal definitions that may help:
1. the developed ovary of a seed plant with its contents and accessory parts, such as the pea pod, nut, tomato, or pineapple
2. the edible part of a plant developed from a flower, with any accessory tissues, such as peach, mulberry, or banana
1. a plant cultivated for an edible part, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service