Fruits are mature reproductive structures of flowering plants. In general, they are fleshy, sweet and enclose one or more seeds. These fruits may also include structural tissues of other parts of the flower.
Fruits are normally produced after the ovary has been fertilized. The ripened ovary then encloses a seed. Fruits come from a variety of different plants. There are simple fruit, acorns, nuts, berries, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Many animals help disperse the seeds in fruits. These dispersers can be bats, birds and mammals. Bats are often considered the most effective dispersers of fruits. Their pagoda-like canopy allows them to spread the seeds in the tropics.
Some fruits are not only edible, but they have a wide cultural meaning. For example, Native Americans used common chokecherry. The fruit is composed of tiny drupes. Its tip bears small brown achenes.
Several classification systems use criteria for determining fruit types. One is based on the properties of the ripened ovary wall. Another system considers whether or not the fruit is dry or fleshy. A third classification system identifies three distinct layers of pericarp.
The outer pericarp is called epicarp. Other pericarp layers are endocarp and mesocarp.
Most fleshy fruits are dispersed by animals. This method is often referred to as seed dissemination. Animals can also disperse some dry fruits. However, most dry fruits do not rely on animals to disperse the seeds. They use wind and water to blow away the seeds.