What are Drupes?

Almonds, a type of drupe, on a tree.

Drupes are fruits with four main parts: a thin skin, a fleshy body, a hard stone and an inner seed. Many are also edible, with people eating the various parts depending on the type. A surprising number of foods are considered drupes, ranging from almonds to peaches. Most cultures eat several different varieties, some of which play an important role in cooking. They can usually be farmed or cultivated, although it is also possible to collect wild versions.

Peaches are drupes.

Working from the outside in, the first layer of a drupe is a thin skin or exocarp that protects it from the elements. Next comes the mesocarp, a thick layer of fleshy matter that is often made juicy and sweet to attract animals so the animals eat the fruit and scatter the seeds in their feces. Then comes the stone or endocarp, which is extremely difficult to protect the delicate seed inside. When the seed lands in good growing conditions, it will sprout, splitting the endocarp.

Walnuts are often thought of as walnut-like drupes.

Stone fruits such as plums, cherries, dates, mangoes and apricots are part of this classification. In this case, people eat both the rind and the sweet pulp inside, but discard the pit and the bitter, inedible seed. In other cases, people only eat the seed, in the form of foods like walnuts and almonds, which are often classified as nuts because of their meaty texture and high fat content.

The rainiest cherries are drupes.

Some people may be surprised to learn that some berries are also drupes. Raspberries and blackberries, for example, are made up of a cluster of tiny drupelets clustered around a central stem. People may have noticed that when a raspberry seed gets stuck in your teeth, it is surprisingly hard and produces a small white pit when it cracks.

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To be technical, fruits are also ovaries. An ovary is a female reproductive part that contains eggs that can be fertilized. In plants, these eggs are called ovules, and when pollinated, they turn into fruits. Like many other fruits, drupes consist of the ovary and the ripened pulp around it, which protects the seeds and promotes dispersal. Obviously, plants are capable of generating new ovaries, unlike mammals.

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