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Strawberries are among the most popular fruits worldwide, known for their bright skin, characteristic aroma, and distinct sweetness. Given the controversy surrounding strawberries not being berries, it’s no wonder that so many people ponder what type of fruit they are. Like some citrus fruits, strawberries contain substantial amounts of vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. But, are strawberries citrus fruits?
No, strawberries are not citrus fruits. They may share similarities with citrus fruits, but strawberries do not fall under this classification. Citrus plants are thorny trees or shrubs grown in warm areas for their edible fruit — in short, nothing like strawberries. Read on to learn more about what type of fruit strawberries are, their history, and how to grow them.
The Strawberry as an Accessory Fruit
The strawberry is an accessory fruit under the genus Fragaria — a subgroup of over 20 flowering plants under the Rosaceae or rose family. Like a rose, a strawberry smells as sweet as it tastes. Typically eaten as fresh fruit, you will also find them in shakes, jams, cocktails, pies, cakes, and other desserts. Here are some factors that set them apart from citrus fruits.
Most of the world’s favorite fruits like apples, grapes, and strawberries are temperate fruits. Such fruits require cold dormancy periods, which help them adapt to tropical climates. They also have different winter hardiness levels, enabling them to tolerate cold weather.
On the other hand, citrus fruits are under the subtropical category. They are fruits that originate from tropical areas and can usually withstand a few cold days in a month but thrive in a hot climate.
Flower and Fruit Structure
Strawberry flowers are usually white and grow in small clusters. They are the only fruits that keep seeds outside, unlike a typical citrus fruit’s composition. Scientists consider strawberry seeds as separate fruits.
Citrus flowers are often white and grow five petals. Citrus fruits, which experts consider as modified berries, have thick skins and flesh segmented into smaller vesicles.
Like citrus fruits, strawberries are excellent low-calorie sources of vitamin C. However, their similarities mostly end there. Strawberries also contain considerable amounts of vitamin B9, potassium, and only 32 calories per 100g.
These mostly-water fruits are not an ideal source of fat and protein. Strawberries are known to boost heart health, decrease sugar levels, and help prevent cancer. Additionally, eating these fruits is linked to reduced chances of acquiring some chronic diseases.
The Etymology of the Word Strawberry: Why Are They Called Berries?
Strawberries have been around for thousands of years, but it was not until the Renaissance that Europeans started cultivating them. Many people wonder why strawberries are named as such but are not considered berries, like blueberries, grapes, tomatoes, and bananas. The answer lies in the etymology of the word berry. The word berry comes from the Old English word berie, which meant grape.
As the English started colonizing the Americas, they also started spreading their language. The English then used the word berie as a generic term for grape-shaped fruits, adding suffixes to differentiate them. The name of the strawberry has not changed since then, but like the grape-shaped raspberry and blackberry, it is not a berry. The scientists of the Renaissance period had not classified fruits yet during that era, and the basis of the name strawberry was about how it looked like a grape and not its distinct characteristics.
So, are strawberries berries? No, they are not. Strawberries are sweet, juicy accessory fruits that you can effortlessly grow in your garden. Keep reading to learn more about the best ways to grow strawberries.
Practical Tips for Growing Strawberries
The best strawberries you’ll come across are home-grown ones that ripen naturally. Whether you have a massive garden or a small patio, you can enjoy strawberries in the comfort of your home. Here are practical tips for growing strawberries.
Prepare the Planting Area
When growing perennial plants like strawberries in soil, a weed-free site is crucial. Strawberries will grow in the same spot for years, so properly preparing the planting area will save you a lot of time, energy, and effort down the road. Once you’ve taken out the weeds, spread two to three inches of compost on the site.
If you want to grow strawberries using aquaponics, you can start by setting up your fish tank.
Pick the Ideal Variety
Experts classify strawberries into four categories.
- Alpine: Typically considered the sweetest variety, it produces fruits throughout the summer months.
- Day-neutral: Usually bearing small fruits, this variety produces abundant yields during the first year.
- Everbearing: This variety typically produces two or three harvests per year.
- June bearing: With the best harvests in June, this variety usually develops large fruits.
Caring for Strawberries
Keep in mind that different strawberry varieties have specific care needs. However, here are care tips applicable to all strawberry types:
- Moist environment: Keep your plants damp with at least an inch of water. Strawberry plants will not thrive in stagnant water, so make sure to maintain proper drainage. For aquaponics settings, make sure to maintain high water quality.
- Fertilizing: When it comes to fertilizers, strawberries prefer none at all to having too much.
- Protection: Keep strawberries away from birds and slugs with nets and copper ribbons.
The Conclusion: Are Strawberries Citrus Fruits?
No, strawberries are not citrus fruits. Strawberries may have some similarities with citrus fruits, but they do not fall in this category. You can see some of the differences in their weather tolerance, flower and fruit structure, and health benefits.
Despite the name, strawberries are not berries either. However, strawberries, citrus fruits, and berries all contain substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that reduce risks of specific illnesses. Include fruits in your diet to achieve your health goals!