The word berry has two meanings: one based on a botanical definition, the other on common identification. True (botanical) berries are a simple fruit having seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary. In common parlance, however, berries are more broadly recognized as small, round or semi-oblong, usually brightly colored, sweet or sour fruit.

True berries

In botany, the berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. The flowers of these plants have a superior ovary and one or more carpels within a thin covering and fleshy interiors. The seeds are embedded in the common flesh of the ovary. Examples of botanical berries include the tomato, grape, lychee, loquat, lucuma, plantain, avocado, persimmon, eggplant, guava, uchuva (ground cherry), and chili pepper.

Modified berries

The fruit of citrus, such as the orange, kumquat and lemon, is a modified berry called a "hesperidium".

The fruit of cucumbers and their relatives are modified berries called "pepoes". A plant that bears berries is referred to as "bacciferous".

True berries are distinguishable from false berries like blueberries and cranberries for which the fruit is formed from other parts of the flower, not just the ovary. Also not true berries, aggregate fruits like raspberries are collections of small fruits, and accessory fruits like strawberries are formed from parts of the plant other than the flower. As explained below, none of these is a true berry.

Common usage

In common parlance, "berry" refers to any small, sweet, juicy and brightly-colored fruit. By contrasting in color with their background, berries are more attractive to animals that eat them, aiding in the dispersal of the plant's seeds. Most berries are edible, but some are poisonous.

Berry colors are due to natural pigments synthesized by the plant. Medical research [cite paper
author = Gross PM
title = Scientists zero in on health benefits of berry pigments
date = 2007-07-09
publisher = Natural Products Information Center
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-31
] has uncovered medicinal properties of pigmented polyphenols, such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins and other phytochemicals localized mainly in berry skins and seeds. Berry pigments are usually antioxidants and thus have oxygen radical absorbance capacity ("ORAC") that is high among plant foods. [cite paper
author = Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL
title = Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States
publisher = J Agric Food Chem 2004 Jun 16;52(12):4026-37.
date = 2004-06-16
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-31
] Together with good nutrient content, ORAC distinguishes several berries within a new category of functional foods called "superfruits", a rapidly-growing multi-billion dollar industry that began in 2005 [cite paper
author = Gross PM
title = Superfruits take center stage: Defining an emergent category
publisher = Natural Products Information Center
date = 2007-02-26
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-31
] and is identified by DataMonitor as one of the top 10 food categories for growth in 2008 [ [ Fresh, super and organic top trends for 2008, "", November 2007] ] .

A 2007 report combined four criteria — nutrient content, antioxidant qualities, medical research intensity and commercial success — giving an approximate rank of commercial activity for six exotic superfruits, including three berries — wolfberry, sea buckthorn and açaí — as the highest rated [ [ Gross PM. Tracking market meteors: exotic superfruits. "Natural Products Insider", November 16, 2007] ] .

From 2007-8 medical literature discussing berry nutrients and potential health properties, grape, strawberry, cranberry and blueberry are the most favored research topics among berries currently [ [ Gross PM. Berry research breakthroughs: ten trendsetters of 2007-8 Natural Products Information Center, June 2008] ] .

Not a botanical berry

Many "berries" are not actual berries by the scientific definition, but fall into one of these categories:

* False berries like blueberry and cranberry, are epigynous, made from a part of the plant other than a single ovary.
* Compound fruit, which includes:
** Aggregate fruit are multiple fruits with seeds from different ovaries of a single flower, such as blackberry, raspberry, and boysenberry
** Multiple fruit, being the fruits of separate flowers, packed closely together. The mulberry, for example, is essentially like a cluster of grapes, but tiny and compressed into one "berry" [] .
* Other accessory fruit, where the edible part is not generated by the ovary, such as the strawberry for which the seed-like achenes are actually the "fruit" derived from the ovary.


ee also

*List of fruits
*Epigynous berry
*Accessory fruit
*Aggregate fruit
*Multiple fruit

External links

* [ The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens] - Description of berries
* [] - Differentiation between true berries, pepos, and hesperidia
* [ United States National Berry Crops Initiative]
* [ Berry Health Benefits Network] - Scientists working on the health properties of berries

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  • Berry — Berry, Chuck Berry, Juan de Francia, duque de Berry, María Carolina Fernanda Luisa de Nápoles, duquesa de ► Antigua región histórica del centro de Francia, actualmente repartida entre los departamentos de Cher, Indre, Creuse, Nièvre y Allier. * * …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Berry — Berry, AL U.S. town in Alabama Population (2000): 1238 Housing Units (2000): 574 Land area (2000): 11.177100 sq. miles (28.948554 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.005802 sq. miles (0.015028 sq. km) Total area (2000): 11.182902 sq. miles (28.963582 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Berry [1] — Berry, 1) ehemalige Provinz in Frankreich, s. Berry (Gesch.); 2) (Canal du B., Canal du Cher), Kanal, im französischen Departement Allier beginnend u. im Departement Loire Cher endigend; 3) (Berry Pomeroy), Dorf in der englischen Grafschaft Devon …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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  • Berry, KY — U.S. city in Kentucky Population (2000): 310 Housing Units (2000): 124 Land area (2000): 0.271264 sq. miles (0.702571 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.271264 sq. miles (0.702571 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

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  • berry — [ber′ē] n. pl. berries [ME & OE berie, a berry, grape, akin to ON ber, Goth weina basi, lit., wine berry] 1. any small, juicy, fleshy fruit, as a strawberry or raspberry 2. the dry seed or kernel of various plants, as a coffee bean or wheat grain …   English World dictionary

  • Berry — Ber ry, n.; pl. {Berries}. [OE. berie, AS. berie, berige; akin to D. bes, G. beere, OS. and OHG. beri, Icel. ber, Sw. b[ a]r, Goth. basi, and perh. Skr. bhas to eat.] 1. Any small fleshy fruit, as the strawberry, mulberry, huckleberry, etc. [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Berry [1] — Berry oder Berri, ehemalige Prov. Frankreichs, bildet jetzt die Departemente des Cher und Indre, fruchtbar an Getreide, berühmt durch Schafzucht, mit Bergbau auf Eisen. Der Name soll von den gallischen Bituriges herkommen; zuerst Grafschaft, dann …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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