Botany word of the week.

Aggregate fruit (as well as some bonus chatter about accessory and multiple fruits, pseudocarps, drupes, achenes, carpels, and…um…monkey bread?)

Occasionally (or possibly frequently, given the weird world we live in), things turn out to be different than advertised. Sort of like that purse I ordered off of the Internet. But I digress….

Case in point: raspberries and strawberries.  Are they actually berries?  You already know where I’m going with this!

What does it mean to be a berry?  Quite a few things, really, but one of them is that the fruit must develop from a flower possessing one ovary.  Strawberries and raspberries don’t fit the bill.  If you take a look at the fruit of a raspberry, you’ll notice that it is made up of a bunch of little nubs. You could pull each one apart, kind of like a loaf of monkey bread.  (Mmmm…how can you tell I haven’t eaten breakfast yet?).  Each one of these is called a drupe (drupelets), and they are produced from the multiple ovaries of a flower.  Each drupe contains a seed.  In the case of a strawberry, those little seed-like things on the outside are not actually seeds, although they do contain seeds. Those small bumps are called achenes.  Because these fruitlets were all joined together, they are called aggregrate fruits.  (Just to be confusing, not all multiple fruits – those with more than one ovary per flower – are aggregate.  Some don’t join together to form a single entity).


And, to add to the fun, strawberries are categorized as an accessory fruit (aka pseudocarp) in addition to an aggregate fruit. Some of that yummy fleshy stuff we eat is made up of tissue that originates near the carpel (modified leaves that surround the ovules) of the flower.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way…I’m off to enjoy an aggregate fruit smoothie!  (Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?).  Do you grow raspberries and/or strawberries in your garden?  What ways do you use them in cooking and baking?  

Geggel, Laura, “Why are Bananas Berries, but Strawberries Aren’t?”, LiveScience, January 12, 2017,
UCMP Berkeley , “Anthophyta: More on Morphology,” accessed March 3, 2020,  (This is a really good resource if you need a refresher on how fruits are formed).



    • I so agree! I love raspberries as well. Cultivated blueberries are a bit trickier to grow in our climate, but there are a few types that can handle our weather fairly well. There are wild blueberries in the province, though, particularly in the north, and coming across them while hiking is such a treat!

  1. I remember being astounded by this when I took an evening botany class. Bananas, watermelons, and tomatoes are berries, but strawberries and raspberries are not! The mind reels!

  2. Not much luck with strawberries, but lots of raspberries. They grow wild throughout our woods, plus I have four rows in the garden. When we get rain at the right time of year, we have a bumper crop!

  3. A very helpful article about a confusing situation. I happened to have photos of our mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica) ready for a post, so I linked to your article there — thanks!

    • I am upset with myself for not knowing that you had another blog! I don’t know how I missed it, I’m so sorry! (I’ve rectified that with a follow just now). I haven’t been reading blogs as much as I would like to and I am sorely behind (think years and years behind). Thank you so much for linking to my post! I will go in and try to catch up with your entries very soon…I always love reading your work.

      • I’m not much of a self-promoter, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that you didn’t know about it. I started it just to share what I was finding when I was out and about, and
        as a place to tuck my favorite photos. Since I’m not on any social media, it seemed the best solution — there’s certainly no need for you to be upset, or even to try and catch up!
        I did notice this weekend that our dewberries are ripening now, so I’ll be posting photos of them soon. There’s quite a difference between our latitude and yours right now!

  4. I think I‘ll just stay with the term fruit or I shall confuse myself! LOL! We have some wild strawberries and raspberries in our garden which are wonderful if we have enough rainfall. 🙂

  5. I had to google monkey bread before I understood your analogy! 😀
    I don’t grow either strawberries or raspberries, though we tried raspberries a couple of years ago and all the canes died, for some reason. Fruit is too much temptation for all the wild creatures roaming through the garden and we’d have to spend a fortune on barricades to keep them out!

    • LOL I was just trying to think what other names monkey bread might go under….

      It sounds like fruit isn’t really the best option for your garden…they obviously think your space is a welcome haven and unless you get some serious pests in there, it’s worth it to go berry-less. 🙂

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