It is by no means certain that the strawberries belong to the fruit. In reality, nuts are involved here, so it would be entirely conceivable to classify strawberries as vegetables. You can find out more about the classification of strawberries and many other things about the strawberry plant that are of interest to gardeners in the following article.

Botanical point of view

Strawberries come about through an almost miraculous development, and the fruits of the strawberry plant are not exactly the part we love to eat.

A strawberry develops from the flowers of a strawberry plant, more precisely from its flower base. This development begins in the middle of the plant, long before the shoot. The first inflorescence is created from meristem cells in the vegetation cone of the strawberry plant. It will later become the largest strawberry, the so-called A-fruit. Meristem cells are a type of stem cells found in the strawberry plant, undifferentiated cells that can be turned into green leaves or white petals or red strawberry tissue. Similar to how a human embryonic stem cell can become skin or kidney or toenail or ear. B-fruits and C-fruits are also created in the same way. They will remain smaller than the A-fruit, but we are still talking about “future fruits”, this process is still invisible to us.

It is only when the strawberry plant starts vegetation in spring that its plant parts develop according to their previous purpose. First the leaves sprout, then the flower buds appear, and the leaf and fruit stalks become longer. The flower of the strawberry plant consists of several intricate parts. Only the flower base is important for those with a sweet tooth. The flower base is the round, yellowish to light green “pillow” in the middle of the flower petals, which is already slightly arched even during flowering.

The strawberry develops from this flower base. It bulges upwards and changes color from light green to red. The juicy, tasty strawberry is ready. Except that it is neither a berry nor the actual fruit of the strawberry plant, because in reality it is the many small yellow threads on the flower base that are important. They have developed into tiny little nuts. Each and every one of these nuts is a strawberry fruit with which the strawberry plant can reproduce. You can still see these strawberry fruits on the strawberry. Ws are the little yellow dots that sit in the little pits with which the surface of a strawberry is littered.

And what is the “red thing” now? What we eat as a strawberry is a false fruit, botanically a common nut fruit, because many small nut fruits sit on a bulging red “collecting container”.

If you sometimes also call the strawberry pseudo-berries, it is quite confusing, because there are no berries involved in strawberry plants, not even pseudo-berries. You mean that the “sham berry” comes from the fact that the strawberry looks like a typical berry? Don’t be fooled, bananas, cucumbers, and avocados are berries too, and real ones.

Strawberries: fruit or vegetables?

It is almost a philosophical consideration whether these nut-bearing false fruits or common nut fruits count as fruit or have to be regarded as vegetables. Even in common parlance, it is far from clear what is fruit and what is vegetables. Fruit comes from the Old High German “obez” = “zukost”, and this is what originally meant everything that you could eat apart from meat and bread, including vegetables. Later this term changed, fruit is colloquially made of fruits.

Which means first of all to know what a fruit is, and that is anything but clear. In colloquial language, all parts of the plant are called fruits that people use. The root of the carrot, the thickened above-ground stem axis of the kohlrabi. In addition to fruit, fruits also include fruit vegetables. Our colloquial language has given “fruit” two meanings, so to speak.

For the botanist, on the other hand, a fruit always and only arises from a fertilized flower and vegetables from other parts of the plant. When fruit = fruit, eggplants, avocados, cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers and zucchini are fruits and rhubarb are vegetables. But that would be a pretty clear division, and nobody would allow us that.

There are still a few definitions. In the food and kitchen sector, fruit is the same as fruit, but fruit only consists of edible, mostly juicy and fleshy fruits and seeds of perennial plants that can be eaten raw and that have their own pleasant taste due to their sweetness or acidity. Vegetables as food are annual or single-bearing plants that have a low sugar content. They are cooked or otherwise prepared before consumption, generally treated with spices to add flavor.

The first question is where the nut part of the strawberry belongs and where the nuts are classified at all. Botanically, they are fruits, nuts and therefore fruit. In terms of food technology, however, they could just as easily be classified as vegetables, because nuts are not very sweet and are often used in cooking. And anyway, most of the products we buy as nuts aren’t even nuts. Cashews are the seeds of cashew apples, peanuts are legumes, and coconuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios are stone pits of a stone fruit.

If you are finally confused enough, we can venture into the classification of the false fruit strawberry. The term nut fruit in the “common nut fruit” speaks botanically for the classification as a fruit, that it is a common nut fruit can actually be irrelevant to us. In terms of food technology, strawberries, juicy, fleshy and sweet, can definitely be described as fruit.

Tips for strawberry gardeners

Originally, the strawberry formed its dummy fruits as a kind of reward for seed transporters. Many of our wildlife enjoy eating strawberries as much as you and I do. The hard-shelled little nuts wander through their intestines undamaged and are excreted far away, where a new strawberry plant can now germinate.

A whole army of little helpers has made use of the strawberry plant here. Foxes and badgers, hedgehogs and mice and dormice, blackbirds and redstart, snails and beetles. Everyone loves strawberries. The ants then drag the remains of the bitten fruit into their burrow.

For the strawberry gardener, this means that while the strawberries are ripening, they need a good defense strategy if strawberries are to end up in his kitchen. There are strategies to protect the strawberries, and they are much smarter than covering them with bird nets. All you have to do is find out more.

By the way, you can predict for yourself how big the false fruits of your strawberry plant will be in the next season. The number of seeds planted in autumn determines the size of the fruit, and beforehand the size of the petals. With the beginning of flowering you can tell whether you can expect a large fruit harvest or a lot of small strawberries. However, it also depends on the variety, small-fruited varieties have smaller and smaller flowers.

Strawberries are quite diverse

Strawberries are also exciting for gardeners in other ways, as there are many different types of them:

1. The Fragaria × ananassa or F. x magna is the actual garden strawberry. This cultivated strawberry, which is used as a useful plant, comes from America, although Fragaria is also native to Europe. The species native to us only produce tiny fruits the size of a wild strawberry. Even though wild strawberries were cultivated in our fields in the Middle Ages, we were enthusiastic about the discovery of the American scarlet strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) with larger fruits, which was imported to Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. Shortly afterwards they discovered the chile strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and brought it to us. It had bigger fruits. In the middle of the 18th century, these two wild forms had crossed each other repeatedly by chance, resulting in the garden strawberry Fragaria × ananassa. Which is not called “ananassa” for nothing. In southern Germany and Austria, this large-fruited cultivated form of the strawberry was really called “pineapple” to distinguish it from the wild strawberry.

Over a hundred varieties have now been bred from this original form of the garden strawberry. Single-bearing (from June about 4 weeks) and e-bearing, varieties that currently dominate the trade and varieties that are now very rarely found. And very special varieties such as hanging strawberries or climbing strawberries, ground-covering strawberries or the Fragaria × vescana. This is a cross between the garden strawberry Fragaria × ananassa and the wild strawberry Fragaria × vesca.

2. In addition to the culture hybrids, some of the original species are still in culture and are just waiting to be discovered by the home gardener. There are chile strawberries and musk or cinnamon strawberries. Also of interest are the apricot strawberries and yellow strawberries, Himalayan strawberries and monthly strawberries, as well as scarlet strawberries and Finnish crisp strawberries.

So one thing is certain: Even the most devoted strawberry gardener will never be bored with his strawberries. He can grow an incredible number of different types of strawberries. Certainly there are some varieties that most gardeners have never heard of.

Strawberries are actually nuts, but they can still be counted among our most popular types of fruit. And strawberries are not only interesting because of this, you have the choice of growing your favorite variety in the garden that you usually buy, growing an almost forgotten rarity or a completely new cultivar, or dealing with highly aromatic wild forms of the strawberry.

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