CulturAgriCulturE: 87- A fruit, what is it?

Claudia Diaz M

Claudia Diaz M

We eat fruits daily, it is one of the bases of our diet, we recommend eating five pieces a day.

But really, a fruit, what is it? >

To understand what a fruit is and what is the justification for its existence, you have to put yourself in the perspective of the plant, not the human who wants to eat a dessert, or wants a balanced diet. >

The plant, like all living beings, has an absolute priority in life, to reproduce itself, to ensure the continuity of the species. In most cases, it does so by producing seeds.

The usual meaning of the word fruit includes most sweet vegetable products, which are often consumed as a dessert. There we find the apple, the peach, the cherry, the mango, the lychee, the cherimoya and many more. Also included are pineapple, fig or strawberry, for example, although they are not (they are false fruits, infructescences in the case of pineapple and fig, polyakenium in the case of strawberry), or also hazelnut, almond, walnut, under the generic name of "nuts", which are not either. However, we do not include eggplant, pepper, pumpkin or zucchini, even if they are.

Today I will focus on the botanical sense of the word, and on the role of fruit from the point of view of the plant. The plant world does nothing by chance. If the fruit exists, there is a justification for its existence. The man consumes the fruit because he found it throughout his search, in the time when he was still a hunter-gatherer, and since then, he learned to tame it through agriculture.

The general structure is the same, whatever the fruit. They are the differences in appearance, texture, composition and proportion of each of the elements that determine the characteristics of each fruit.

Here's what Wikipedia says in its French edition:

The pericarp is the wall of the fruit, resulting from the transformation, after fertilization, of the ovary wall. For the false fruits, it results from the transformation of the floral receptacle.

The pericarp is formed of three layers: The epicarp, usually colored, usually called skin;

- The mesocarp, which gives the juicy part of fleshy fruits; The endocarp, sometimes lignified and called bone.

But the plant has to face a fundamental problem: it can not be displaced.

that their seeds are transported a little or a lot farther, something that can not do alone, except in a special case (as is the case of the devil gherkin, ecballium elaterium, able to project its seeds more than ten meters away https: / /

Why do you need to send your seeds in the distance?

To avoid overcrowding in the same limited area and a food and survival problem. Well you need to spread your seeds in the surroundings, outside the area of ​​influence of the mother standing cup. The plant kingdom has demonstrated an incredible capacity to imagine and implement varied and very effective systems to achieve this.

Some plants use animals to transport their seeds. For that, the seed must be attractive, but protected.

Claudia Diaz M
Claudia Diaz M @Clau_diazm

Others prefer to use air or water as a means of transport. For that, the seed should be light and "equipped" to travel.

What is the solution? Employ animals, mobile, they are going to pass close. But to achieve this, they must be attracted. We will therefore find a great diversity of colors, shapes, aromas, flavors, and even fruit size, to attract certain types of animals.

For example, all fruits whose seed is

Fruits with small seeds (apple, pear, citrus, tomato, pear, etc.) cucurbitaceae and others), can also attract birds and small rodents.

Then the fruit itself, which we eat, carefully avoiding the bone, what exactly is it? several papers, often consecutive, throughout their development.

Throughout the cycle, it has a permanent protective role for the seed itself. For example, in case of hail or frost, the casing that supports the damage is first. The seed will only be affected if the problem is serious.

At the beginning of the cycle, seed in formation, still very small, is surrounded by meat that protects it from climatic problems and is usually unattractive, repellent or even sometimes toxic to animals and insects, to prevent the fruit from being devoured before the seed is viable.

During this phase, if the plant is in a dangerous situation, in whose survival is threatened, still has the possibility of unloading (partially or totally) of its fruits, in order to try to survive. "Knows" that since it is still at the beginning of the cycle, it has no possibility of carrying the seed until its maturity. Therefore it is wiser to download to try to survive the problem, in order to try again the following year.

When the evolution of the seed is finished, the plant causes the ripening of the fruit, accompanied by a change of color and the production of attractive substances, such as sugars and aromas, to attract the animals needed by the plant for the dissemination of the seed. The animals will detect, then consume or take the fruit, and throw the seed a little farther, thus fulfilling their role in spreading the vegetable spice.

Size, color, type of meat, aromas, are so many characters that will determine the animals that will be attracted to each type of fruit. The local evolution of wild individuals also adds genetic variability within the same plant species.

Hybrids, which create varieties by natural pathways (by controlled pollination, not by transgenesis), seek this genetic variability due to casual crosses in nature, and to local adaptations, to convey the interesting characters. For example, a wild fruit originating in a very humid region will probably have a tolerance or resistance to certain fungal or bacterial diseases favored by moisture. This character will be able to be transmitted to a part of his descendants.

For the farmer, in the case of most fruits and vegetables, what matters most is the wrapper, not the seed, is often not consumed. But it is important to understand that the goal of agriculture is to produce the fruit, when the plant tries to produce the seed contained by the fruit.

Our interest in fruit is not the same as that of the plant.

The plant protects its seed through the fruit. The fruit exists to withstand aggressions of all kinds, climatic, attacks of insects or diseases. It does not matter, as long as the seed is safe.

You must protect the protector.

You must be able to produce the fruit even if the seed is not viable.

This difference in purpose represents a challenge and one of the fundamental difficulties of agricultural production.

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