Why are cucumbers fruit and rhubarbs vegetables?

Apples, blueberries and pears are fruit. Broccoli, carrots and cauliflower are vegetables. That seems pretty simple, right?

But in the world of fruit versus vegetables it’s not always that straight forward. For botanists the distinction between fruit and vegetables is a little more complicated. They will tell you that technically, fruit are the ovaries of a seed-bearing plants that develop after fertilisation. Simply, if it has seeds it is a fruit.

The ovary is the female part of the flower and after pollination (or fertilisation), the seeds develop protected inside the ovary as it swells and ripens. Fruits are often fleshy, coloured and sweet when ripened to attract animals to disperse the seeds. Think bears and blueberries.

So while botanists consider apples, blueberries, and pears to be fruit; they also consider tomatoes, pumpkins, and cucumbers to be fruit. Now to make it really complicated; they also consider legumes (peas and beans) to be fruit.

So what exactly are vegetables?

Botanists consider vegetables to be the non-flowering parts of plants. That would include the leaves, we eat spinach leaves. The stems, we eat celery. We eat roots, like carrots and turnips. We eat the tubers like potatoes.

That seems pretty straight forward, but we’ve always considered fruit to be sweet and vegetables to be savoury. At BC Farm Fresh while we’ve made plenty of blueberry cakes; we’ve never made a tomato cake. And cucumber pie? Forget it! But we’ve used them in some fabulous savoury dishes – soups, pasta sauces, salads and stews.

The bottom line; enjoy them all and don’t worry whether it’s a fruit or vegetable. Leave that to the botanists!