When you think of fruits, you probably immediately think of trees and bushes laden with deliciousness. Vines bear fruit too, as do some ground-creeping plants. But have you ever come across fruits that grow in the ground? Let’s take a look at whether there are, in fact, any species that do so.
How is a Fruit Classified?
In simplest terms, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops in a flowering plant. This is formed after the plant as flowered, and the fruit body is formed from the ovary.
So, a cherry flower will turn into a cherry fruit, which has a pit in the center. Same goes for a peach, orange blossom, rose, etc.
Since flowers are generally aerial parts of a plant, they don’t generally develop underground. There is, however, one single exception to this rule, and that is the humble peanut (also known as the “groundnut”).
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Behold the Peanut Fruit!
Are you familiar with a phenomenon known as Geocarpy? Unless you’re a botanist, you might have never even come across this term, let alone studied it.
Geocarpy is an extremely rare form of fruit development, in which a flower will shift from its aerial position to develop underground fruit.
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Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are members of the pea/bean (Fabaceae) family. The parent peanut plants create lovely flowers that will eventually develop stalk bits known as “pegs”.
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These grow on the flowers’ basis, and reach towards the earth until they make contact. Once they hit soil, they spear themselves several inches down below the soil’s surface.
Next, the fertilized ovules travel downwards from the flower into the submerged peg tip. Guess what these develop into? That’s right: peanut pods.
Those pods are considered hard-shelled fruits, while the crunchy bits we eat (and transform into butter) are the edible seeds within. Isn’t that cool?
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Peanut Butter = Fruit Spread
So there you have it. If you’re looking for fruits that grow in the ground, there’s only one, and it’s a peanut.
It’s weird to think of peanut butter as a kind of fruit spread, but it makes sense as to why the jars are next to jam and jelly in the supermarket. It’s not just because they pair so well with fruits: they’re fruits themselves!
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The next time you’re eating them, you’ll be entirely correct if you tell everyone that you’re stuffing your face with a bowl of fruit.
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