Often times, people find it difficult to differentiate between simple and common agronomic terms, such as the difference between crop and plant and the difference between a fruit and a seed.
As an agronomist or a student of agriculture, it is very imperative you know some simple terms in agriculture. These terms will add value to your expressions in time of any agricultural function or engagement.
They, knowingly or unknowingly, use these terms indiscriminately, calling a fruit, seed and otherwise. This article will shed more light and comprehensively differentiates between a seed and a fruit as simple as possible.
Fruit vs Seed: Botanical and Economic difference
Economic differences between a fruit and a seed are:
- Fruit is edible and consumable but a seed is not. A seed is primarily used for propagation or planting to produce a new plant.
- The fruit has high moisture content; about 80% moisture makes up a fruit. However, a seed must have a low moisture content ranging between 13-15% to ensure germination and enhance storage.
- A seed can be stored for a long time, usually planting seasons but fruit cannot be stored for a long time. The longer the storage the lower the quality of the fruit.
- Fruit is made up of three (3) parts or regions namely: the Exocarp, Endocarp, and Mesocarp. The Exocarp is the outer covering of the fruit or the skin; the Endocarp is the inner boundary around the seeds while the Mesocarp is the fleshy tissue between Exocarp and Endocarp. In case of the seed; it is made up of an Embryo and an Endosperm.
- A fruit contains nutrients that nourish the body after consumption but a seed contains only an endosperm that supplies the embryo with needed nutrients for its growth and development.
- Fruit is for the populace because everyone eats the fruit but seeds are only important to farmers for the production of new fruits.
I hope the economic differences are clear. Now let’s see the botanical difference and how seed and fruit are formed for more understanding.
Botanically, a seed is not a fruit. They are different entities, even though they are closely related.
Let’s look at the development of flowers, which is the main source of both a seed and a fruit.
One of the features that are common in a plant is the development of flowers. Every plant forms or develops flower at the reproductive stage. The flower is the reproductive structure of a plant; it is where the reproductive parts, male and female parts, emerge. A flower is made up of four parts, namely:
These are the four basic parts of a flower. The carpel represents the female reproductive part, it is responsible for the formation of eggs; the stamen is the male reproductive part, the petal surrounds the carpel and the stamen while the sepal surrounds the petal.
The carpel has a structure that receives pollen grains, this structure is called stigma, which is held in position by a structure called style. Just below the style is the ovary. The ovary is the structure that houses the ovules; the ovary does four things:
- Produces eggs
- Produces polar nuclei
- Produces seed
- Produces fruit.
You can say that both fruit and seed are from the same part, you are quite correct but that’s not all.
Growth is indefinite in plants. As the plant grows, the ovary develops into fruit; hence, a fruit is a matured ovary. As for the seeds, remember the ovary houses the ovule. For a seed to emerge, fertilization must take place; fertilization occurs when the pollen grains received by the stigma finds its way to the ovule in the ovary.
Once this is successful, it forms an embryo, the living part of a seed, and an endosperm, where nutrients are naturally deposited to nourish the newly formed embryo. This development is called a seed, therefore, you can say that a seed is a fertilized ovule or an ovule after fertilization becomes a seed.
It is like the development of human which occurs when the sperm meets an ovum or egg in the female which after successful fertilization turns to a zygote and a baby finally emerged, in the case of a plant, the baby is the seed.
In a simple term, we can say a seed is a miniature plant that is capable of germinating. A seed contains an endosperm and an embryo. The living of the embryo makes a seed capable of growing; a seed with a dead embryo is no longer a seed as the viability of the embryo defines the term “seed”.
Some seeds are fruit, which is what people consume. If the intention is for consumption, then it should not be called seed but fruit. A fruit in most cases is the edible part of a crop and the objective of cultivation.
Fruit is a mature ovary. All fruits develop from the ovary; however, a seed is a mature ovule. The ovule develops into a seed after fertilization.
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