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Plants and Society, 3/e
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Plant Life Cycle: Fruits and Seeds

Chapter Summary

1. Fruits are unique to the sexual reproduction of angiosperms. They protect the enclosed seeds and aid in seed dissemination. Botanically, a fruit is a ripened ovary, although in the United States, the legal definition of a fruit is something that tastes sweet and is eaten as dessert.

2. Fruits can be classified according to the characteristics of the fruit wall or pericarp. In fleshy fruits, the pericarp is soft and juicy; berry, hesperidium, pepo, drupe, and pome are all examples of fleshy fruits. In dry fruits, the pericarp is often tough or papery. Dry fruits can also be dehiscent, splitting open along one or more seams to release their seeds. Follicles, legumes, and capsules are examples of dehiscent fruits. Dry fruits that do not split open are indehiscent; examples of this fruit type are achenes, samaras, grains, and nuts. Simple fruits are derived from a single ovary. Aggregate fruits develop from the separate ovaries within a single flower; multiple fruits result from the fusion of ovaries from separate flowers in an inflorescence.

3. Seeds are the end products of sexual reproduction in flowering plants. Each seed contains an embryonic plant, nutrient tissue to nourish the embryo, and a tough outer seed coat. Differences exist between monocot and dicot seeds. Monocotyledonous seeds have a single small cotyledon, whereas dicotyledonous seeds typically have two large cotyledons.

4. Edible fruits have played an important role not only as a significant contribution to the human diet but also in scientific studies and folklore. Once-exotic fruits are becoming commonplace as they become incorporated into the world’s marketplace.