Why Do Strawberries Have Seeds on the Outside of the Fruit?

Overview

A strawberry plant has a short stem called a crown. Out of this crown the strawberry plant produces stems, a whorl of leaves, fruiting bodies and a runner that produces more crowns. Strawberries are edible and heart-shaped with a green cap and red, fleshy meat. The surface of a strawberry appears studded with seeds.

Features

The strawberry is the only fruit that has seeds on the outside of its skin. No matter which type of strawberry is grown, there are exactly 200 seeds embedded in the outer skin.

Function

Strawberries are not actually berries. The strawberry plant is a member of the rose family. The edible fruit of a strawberry plant is a false fruit known as an achene. The true fruits on the strawberry plant are those tiny structures embedded in the plant that we think of as seeds. These "seeds" are known as achenes. Each has the true seed inside of it.

Significance

If you look at the strawberry plant's cousin, the rose, you will see each plant has similar fruit structures. Rose fruits produced by the rose plants are known as rose hips. Like strawberries, once a rose blossom is pollinated, the petals fall away. The stem of the rose swells until it produces a fruit-like achene rose hip. Using the rose to illustrate, we can see the strawberry "fruit" is actually an enlarged piece of stem with tiny fruits growing from it. If you cut open a strawberry, you will see tiny white trails leading from each embedded seed to the heart of the strawberry.

Identification

Achenes are considered a fruit because they have a seed in them that is surrounded by an ovary wall. The word achenes comes from a Latin version of the Greek word "chainein," which means to yawn. Achenes are typically dry and tough seed-like structures. The interior contains a seed that attaches to the ovary wall with a tiny membrane. A larger example is a sunflower seed.

Benefits

Strawberries developed their unique structure as a survival and propagation trait. Animals and humans eat the seeds along with the berry. These seeds are later excreted in another location, where they can grow into new strawberry plants.

Keywords: strawberry seeds, strawberry plants, planting strawberries

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."