The Reasons Why Mangoes Are Not Actually Considered Berries

Mangoes are one of the most popular fruits around the world. Known for their sweet, juicy flesh and vibrant colors, mangoes are a tropical treat. Many people mistakenly think mangoes are some type of berry fruit. However, mangoes do not meet the botanical criteria to be classified as true berries.

The Definition of a Berry

Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit that is produced from a single ovary of a flower and contains seeds embedded in edible fleshy pulp. The pericarp or fleshy wall of the fruit is thin but tough.

Some key characteristics that define true berries include:

1. Thin Pericarp Layer Surrounding the Seeds

The pericarp or fleshy part surrounding the seeds is relatively thin in berries. The seeds are embedded directly in this fleshy pulp and there is no hard, outer stony layer present.

2. Entire Ovary Wall Develops into Fleshy Fruit Tissue

In true berries, the fruits outer wall comes entirely from the swelling of the ovary. There are no additional floral parts that contribute to the mature fruit structure.

3. Contains Multiple Seeds

True berries contain more than one seed, with the seeds dispersed throughout the fleshy pulp. Each seed comes from a separate ovule contained in a single pistil.

4. Lack of Internal Divisions

The interior of a berry contains no divisions or segments, just a soft mass of pulp and seeds.

5. Do Not Split Open at Maturity

When ripe, berries do not crack or split open. The pericarp remains intact with the seeds embedded inside.

Why Mangoes Are Not Berries

When examined closely, it becomes clear that mangoes lack several of the defining features of true botanical berries:

1. Thick Fibrous Flesh and Large Central Stone

Unlike thin-skinned berries, mangoes have a thick, fibrous flesh. There is also a large, flat pit at the center that is made up of a woody outer layer surrounding a single seed.

2. Outer Skin Derived from Floral Parts

A mango’s skin comes from both the ovary wall and other floral parts including the sepals and petals. Berries form entirely from the ovary.

3. Single Large Seed

Instead of multiple small seeds dispersed through soft pulp, a mango contains just one large seed within the central stone.

4. Internal Divisions

Mangoes feature segments of flesh divided by fibrous strands extending from the pit. Berries lack internal divisions.

5. Split Open at Maturity

When mangoes fully ripen, the flesh tends to split open and separate from the large central pit. This is unlike true berries that retain their shape when ripe.

Distinguishing Mangoes from Berries

Though mangoes bear some superficial resemblance to berries, important structural differences set them apart. Here are some key ways mangoes and berries differ:

Pericarp Structure

  • Mango – Thick, fibrous pericarp layer
  • Berry – Thin, soft, fleshy pericarp

The pericarp or wall of the fruit is much thicker and tougher in mangoes versus tender and pulpy in berries.

Seed Formation

  • Mango – Solitary seed within a pit
  • Berry – Multiple tiny seeds dispersed through pulp

Mangoes contain just one large seed encased in a stony pit, unlike the small seeds distributed evenly in berry pulp.

Fruit Origins

  • Mango – Mesocarp and exocarp from ovary, sepals, petals
  • Berry – Entire fruit originates from the ovary

Berry skins come entirely from the ovary while mango skins also incorporate parts of other flower structures.

Internal Divisions

  • Mango – Fibrous segments divide the flesh
  • Berry – No internal segments, uniform pulp

Fibrous strands extending from the pit give mangoes a segmented interior lacking in smooth-fleshed berries.

Ripe Fruit Behavior

  • Mango – Splits open and separates from seed
  • Berry – Remains closed with seeds enclosed

When fully ripe, mangoes split away from the pit while berries retain their enclosed seed-filled form.

So from vascular anatomy to seed arrangement, the mango differs significantly from berries. These contrasts make it clear mangoes cannot qualify as true berries in scientific classification. Their distinctive drupe identity emerges under close inspection.

The True Nature of a Mango Fruit

Given their structure and development, mangoes are classified as drupes, not berries. Drupes are fleshy fruits with a thin skin, soft pulp, and central stone surrounding a single seed. Some other common drupes include peaches, plums, cherries, olives, and coconuts.

Like all drupes, mangoes develop from a single ovary while attached to the mother plant. The fleshy mesocarp of the fruit comes from the ovary wall. The leathery skin or exocarp forms from the sepals, petals, and receptacle cup at the base of the flower. The endocarp arises from the innermost ovary layer to create the stony pit.

During development, mangoes go through three stages. At first they are small and green, then they ripen into a firm yet pliable state before finally becoming soft, aromatic, and juicy when fully ripe. The flesh gradually transitions from starchy to sweet, succulent, and rich.

When mature, the mango splits from the seed into two halves. The now separate drupe falls away from the plant. Animals are attracted to the fruit’s flesh and aid in seed dispersal through their foraging and digestion.

So while mangoes may seem berry-like, their anatomy clearly places them in the category of drupes, not real berries. Their large pit, fibrous flesh, and tendency to split open all make mangoes distinctly non-berry.

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