We have some berry troubling news (pun intended!). Strawberries aren’t really berries. Some people don’t even consider them fruits!
What’s going on here? Follow along as we try to turn this mystery inside out!
People who study plants — called “botanists” — don’t consider strawberries to be true berries. True berries, such as cranberries and blueberries, have seeds inside them. If you cut open a strawberry, you will notice right away that there are no seeds inside.
Of course not! The seeds are on the outside, right? Well, sort of…
Technically, what we think of as a strawberry is the enlarged end of the part of the plant called the “stamen.” Usually, a fruit develops from the ovaries of a flower.
Most scientists — and all cooks — still consider strawberries to be fruits, though. Sometimes strawberries are called “aggregate accessory fruits” since the part we eat comes from the part that holds the ovaries instead of the ovaries themselves. Scientifically, the strawberry belongs to the genus Fragraria, which makes it a close relative to the rose.
The “seeds” you see on the outside of a strawberry are actually the plant’s ovaries and are called “achenes.” Each “seed” is technically a separate fruit that has a seed inside of it.
Despite all this confusion about strawberry seeds, most strawberries are not actually grown from seeds! As strawberry plants grow, they send out thin growths called “runners” or “clones.”
These runners look like strings. When they reach the ground, they send roots into the soil. The roots produce new strawberry plants.
So how did the humble strawberry get its name? No one knows for sure, but there are a few ideas of how the name might have come about.
Some believe that English children in the 19th century would pick strawberries and string them on grass straws to sell as “straws of berries.” Others think the name came from the practice of placing straw around the plants to protect them from the weather. Most people, however, believe “strawberry” came from “strewn berry” since strawberries appear to be “strewn” about on the plants where they grow.
The state of California produces about 88 percent of the fresh and frozen strawberries consumed in the United States. In 2010, more than 2 billion pounds of strawberries were handpicked and shipped all over the country.
Fun strawberry facts:
- A serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange.
- The green leafy part at the top of a strawberry is called the “calyx.”
- If you lined up all the strawberries grown each year, they would circle the Earth almost 17 times!
- In mild, coastal areas like California, strawberries grow year-round.