The Life Cycle of a Fruit-Bearing Plant

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Fruit life cycles begin with a seed.
Fruit life cycles begin with a seed. (Image: blackberries ripening image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

The life cycle of a fruit-bearing plant usually begins with a seed. It could also begin as a cutting from another plant; as a tuber or it could start its new life from a runner that extrudes from the original plant.

Fruits actually function as the means to spread the seeds that are within. When the flesh of the fruit is eaten, the seed is tossed and can begin life when it is deposited in the soil. Sometimes fruit seeds are eaten by animals and dispersed through their wastes. Fruit seeds can also be carried to different sites by the wind or the waves of the sea.

Seed or Graft and Dispersal

Seeds contain all the requisites of potential life: the embryo and all the nutrients necessary for it to germinate and grow into a functioning plant. Some fruit-bearing trees, like apples, are often grafted onto another tree stem in order to acquire a clone of the original tree. A cut is made into the stock tree and a small section of the original fruit tree is grafted onto the incision.

Tasty fruits are often eaten by animals--such as deer, squirrels and bears--or by birds. Digestive juices soften the seed's hard shell and when the seeds are excreted they are ready to begin the first stage in the life of a fruit-bearing plant.

A watermelon seed can grow into a new watermelon.
A watermelon seed can grow into a new watermelon. (Image: seeds image by Kimberly Reinick from Fotolia.com)

Seedlings

Seeds have certain requirements before they can germinate. They need a period of dormancy, a specific depth at which they must be planted and may require either light but usually darkness in order to germinate.

Once germinated, a root protrudes from the bottom of the seed and begins to grow downward, while a sprout grows upward. The seed uses up all the nutrients held in the seed to germinate. Once the shoot breaks through the surface and starts producing leaves, it starts the process of photosynthesis while the roots search and absorb water for the new seedling which slowly grows into a mature fruit-bearing plant.

Seedlings need light once they have germinated.
Seedlings need light once they have germinated. (Image: neurtured seedling image by leafy from Fotolia.com)

Flowering

Different fruit-bearing plants flower in different ways. Some fruits, such as raspberries and blackberries, grow on shoots that are biennial, meaning they grow the first year and flower and fruit the next year. They also produce sucker shoots that grow off old canes and from root buds.

Fruit-bearing plants, like strawberries, come in various forms: some are ever-bearing varieties and others flower and fruit only once. The mother plant often dies after propagating herself by producing daughter runners that attach themselves to the soil.

Flowers need to be pollinated before they mature into fruit.
Flowers need to be pollinated before they mature into fruit. (Image: strawberry flower image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com)

Pollination

Buds gently ripen on the fruit-bearing plant and open up into flowers. These flowers are now pollinated by bees, hummingbirds and/or other insects. They are fertilized when the pollen from the flower stamens (the male reproductive organ) is transferred by pollinators to the pistil (female reproductive organ) of another flower. Pollinated flowers slowly develop into fruit.

Bees pollinate fruit flowers.
Bees pollinate fruit flowers. (Image: bee bees apises beehive hive insect image by Pali A from Fotolia.com)

Fruit

After pollination, the fertilized seed slowly starts enlarging and pushes the petals off. The immature fruit starts to change color from a light shade to a deep red, in the case of a strawberry and/or raspberry, and to a black for a blackberry, or other colors, depending on the type of fruit.

Fruits are eaten by humans, animals and birds and the pit or seed discarded. When the seed falls on fertile ground, it grows up into another plant and the life cycle of the fruit-bearing plant begins again.

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