Ever wondered if those seed-like structures on strawberries might actually be something else as you took a bite? It’s a common thought, but they do resemble seeds, so it’s only natural to assume they are just that.
However, those pitted structures are known as achenes, and surprisingly, they are the actual fruit of the strawberry plant, each containing a single seed inside. The term “achene” is used to describe the simple dry fruit found in various flowering plant species, including quinoa, buckwheat, and cannabis.
So, if strawberries aren’t the plant’s fruit and not even berries, then what are they exactly? Technically, strawberries belong to the category of aggregate fruits within the Rosaceae family. Raspberries and blackberries are also part of this group, all being members of the same family as roses.
The term “berry” can be ambiguous since it is often used to describe any edible fruit with seeds, but there is a specific scientific classification for berries. For a fruit to be considered a berry, it must have multiple seeds and consist of three layers: an outer skin (exocarp), a fleshy middle (mesocarp), and an inner casing that encloses the seeds (endocarp).
Contrary to true berries, strawberries belong to a different category. They are, in fact, the enlarged receptacle tissue that holds the fruit with its seeds on the surface. Unlike many other fruits, when the strawberry flower is pollinated, it’s not the fruit that swells but the receptacle tissue. The true fruit separates into tiny, dry achenes, each containing a single seed, which means they cannot be classified as berries either.
Interestingly, most strawberry plants are not even cultivated from their seeds. They produce “runners,” which are essentially small strawberry clones that grow out from the main plant and take root when they touch the ground.