In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Nix v. Hedden, ruled that a tomato was legally a vegetable rather than a fruit. This was in keeping with the public's general conception of fruits as being relatively sweet and dessertlike.
Vegetables, on the other hand, were considered more savory and useful as salad or main-course foods. Regardless of the court's decision, a fruit, botanically speaking, is any ovary and its accessory parts that has developed and matured. It also usually contains seeds. By this definition, many so-called vegetables, including tomatoes, string beans, cucumbers, and squashes, are really fruits. On the other hand, vegetables can consist of leaves (e.g., lettuce, cabbage), leaf petioles (e.g., celery), specialized leaves (e.g., onion), stems (e.g., white potato), roots (e.g., sweet potato), stems and roots (e.g., beets), flowers and their peduncles (e.g., broccoli), flower buds (e.g., globe artichoke), or other parts of the plant.
All fruits develop from flower ovaries and accordingly are found exclusively in the flowering plants. Fertilization (see Chapter 23) usually indirectly determines whether or not the ovary or ovaries (and sometimes the receptacle or
Flowers, Fruits, and Seeds
Was this article helpful?