Differences Between Seeds & Fruit

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The seeds and fruit of a plant develop at the same time, but even though they depend on each other, they are not the same. Seeds are the part of a plant that contains the plant's embryo. The fruit is the ovary of a flowering plant that nourishes and protects developing seeds. The number and size of the seeds determine how large the fruit will grow.

Fruit

  • Fruit is the mature, ripe ovary of a plant that contains the plant's seeds. The pericarp is the outer part of the fruit that surrounds the seeds. The exocarp, or outer skin; the mesocarp, or flesh and the endocarp, or inner covering make up the pericarp. Fruits are placed in categories according to whether they are dry or fleshy and whether or not they split open when they mature. Simple fruits develop from one ovary of a single flower. Simple fleshy fruits include berries such as grapes, drupes such as cherries containing hard pits, and capsules such as cotton that dry and split along several seams. Simple dry fruits include legumes such as peas that dry and split along two seams, grains such as corn that contain a single seed fused to the fruit wall, and nuts such as acorns in which the fruit's wall is separated from the seed coat. Aggregate fruits such as blackberries develop from one flower with many ovaries. Multiple fruits such as pineapple develop from ovaries of many flowers on a single stalk.

Seeds

  • Seeds are made up of the plant embryo, stored food tissue, and a thick, protective seed coat. Protective sheaths contain the embryo's shoot and root. The cotyledon nourishes the seed as it begins to grow and the endosperm provides nourishment as the embryo develops. Seeds must be grown, harvested and processed correctly to make them productive. Some seeds are edible, including sunflower, flax, sesame and pumpkin seeds.

Fruit's Role in Seed Dispersion

  • While fruits taste good and contain many vitamins and minerals that enhance the health of humans, the main purpose of fruit is to disperse seeds rather than to serve as a food source. Animals attracted to the sweet taste of fruit eat it and drop the seeds in different areas. Non-fleshy fruits can stick to animal fur and be carried to other locations. Some fruit ejects seeds forcefully, while other seeds are carried to new places by wind or water.

References

  • Photo Credit Andrew Dernie/Photodisc/Getty Images
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