Who would have thought that studying Old English would come in handy when dealing with the wild blueberry? Well it has, and I would like to take this opportunity to be snarky to all the people who told me I was wasting my time taking that class.

You see, the word berry is derived from the Old English word berie which means grape. European immigrants to North America took to calling any fruit that grew in clumps by the suffix berie, which later became known as berry. The problem is that these fruits were group together by their appearance and not by botany.

From a botany point of view, a berry is a soft fleshy fruit formed from the ovary of one flower and has its seeds embedded inside the flesh. By this classification, blueberries are a true berry (as are cranberries and gooseberries) while strawberries and raspberries are not. The blueberry is a closer relation to Rhododendrons and Azaleas than they are to strawberries. Even more surprising, bananas, grapes, kiwis and even watermelon are classified as berries.

When a fruit is from a plant with more than one ovary, such as the strawberry and the raspberry, they are referred to as an aggregate fruit.

By the way, a tomato is actually classified as a fruit and it too is also considered to be a true berry. As Miles Kington is credited with saying, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, intelligence is not putting it in a fruit salad.

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