The Shattering Truth about Watermelons and Other Fruits You Thought You Knew

Get ready to have your fruit-loving minds blown: Watermelons are berries, and strawberries are not.

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Lime
Photo: © John Kernick

In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.

Get ready to have your fruit-loving minds blown: Watermelons are berries. And so are cucumbers, cantaloupes, squash and pumpkins.

Scientifically called pepos, these fruits fall into a specific category of berry—one with a tough rind, multiple flat seeds and pulpy flesh. Pepos are also indehiscent. While we wish that meant they showed too much skin, the term actually refers to a pod or fruit that doesn't split open when it's ripe.

To make matters more confusing, some fruits commonly considered berries aren't berries at all. Strawberries, for example, are actually "aggregate accessory fruits." While true berries contain a single ovary, strawberries have multiple. Fun fact: Each of those tiny seeds on the outside of the strawberry is technically an individual fruit.

So, watermelons are ginormous berries and one strawberry is like a micro serving of fruit. Consider the small talk at your next cookout taken care of, courtesy of Food & Wine.

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