Fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in particular, have propagated with the movements of humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship as a means for seed dispersal and nutrition; in fact, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Accordingly, fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the apple and the pomegranate) have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings.
Examples of culinary “vegetables” and nuts that are botanically fruit include corn, cucurbits (e.g., cucumber, pumpkin, and squash), eggplant, legumes, sweet pepper, and tomato.
In common language usage, “fruit” normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state, such as apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries. On the other hand, in botanical usage, “fruit” includes many structures that are not commonly called “fruits”, such as bean pods, corn kernels, tomatoes, and wheat grains. The section of a fungus that produces spores is also called a fruiting body.
Many common terms for seeds and fruit do not correspond to the botanical classifications. In culinary terminology, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant part, especially a botanical fruit; a nut is any hard, oily, and shelled plant product; and a vegetable is any savory or less sweet plant product. However, in botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary or carpel that contains seeds, a nut is a type of fruit and not a seed, and a seed is a ripened ovule.