The Great Plant Escape
In Search of Green Life

Plant Parts - Fruit

The fruit is the ripened ovary of a plant containing the seeds. After fertilization, the ovary swells and becomes either fleshy or hard and dry to protect the developing seeds. Many fruits help seeds spread (maple seeds). Many things we call vegetables are really fruits such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans.

Examples of Fruits or Ripened Ovaries

Every seed is a tiny plant (embryo) with leaves, stems, and root parts waiting for the right things to happen to make it germinate and grow. Seeds are protected by a coat. This coat can be thin or thick and hard. Thin coats don't protect the embryo well. But thick coats can let the embryo survive some tough conditions.

The seed also contains a short-term food supply called the endosperm which is formed at fertilization but is not part of the embryo. It is used by the embryo to help its growth. In the bean that is shown, the endosperm is no longer there. It has been used for the growth of the embryo, and most of its nutrients and energy are now in a different form within the tissues of the cotyledon.

Plants with one cotyledon (like corn) are called monocots. If they have two cotyledons (like beans), they are called dicots.

Seeds are a plant's way of getting from one area to another by either wind, water or animals.

Diagram of Seed Coat, Embryo, Cotyledon


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