Is an orange a fruit or vegetable? Read the entire article to find out what oranges are from botanical and culinary standpoints.
Oranges are some of the most popular fruits in the world. They are very popular for their tasty fresh juice but are also prevalent in fruit salads, syrups, marmalade, or in the making of various fruit desserts.
Apparently, these fruits have a very non-original name due to a very obvious reason. However, it is interesting to know that the fruit’s name was used before the orange color existed in the English vocabulary.
The plant that produces oranges is a tree called the “orange tree”. It is believed that they originate from India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and China, and more recent studies have shown that oranges are actually hybrids between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata).
There are countless debates on the internet about whether some of the products of certain plants are fruits, vegetables, seeds, or something else. Most of the time, these classifications may vary depending on a botanical and a culinary point of view.
So, what is an orange considered? Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
Are Oranges Fruits From A Botanically Standpoint?
According to Britannica’s botanically definition of fruit:
A fruit is the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant, enclosing the seed or seeds.Britannica.com
Therefore, in simple terms, the main particularities of fruits are:
- They form from flowers
- Enclose one or more seeds
- Have a fleshy or dry core
So do oranges meet these conditions to be considered fruit from a botanical point of view?
Do oranges form from flowers?
Yes, oranges grow from the flowers of orange trees.
Do oranges enclose one or more seeds?
Most orange tree species are reproduced through bud grafting but many varieties of oranges produce seeds. Yet, there are also various hybrids that are seedless. These species are usually the result of selective breeding and designed to obtain fruits with fewer or no seeds, which consumers seem to favor.
Do oranges have a fleshy or dry core?
Yes, oranges have plenty of juicy pulp inside the skin.
Are Oranges Fruits From A Culinary Standpoint?
According to Wikipedia’s definition:
In culinary terminology, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant part, especially a botanical fruit.Wikipedia
From a culinary point of view, oranges are considered fruits as they have a sweet taste.
Consequently, oranges are fruits both from a botanical but also from a culinary perspective.
Are Oranges Vegetables?
Could oranges also be considered vegetables?
Unlike fruits, which have a pretty clear and concise botanical definition, this field does not have an accurate definition of vegetables. Therefore, is not entirely clear what differentiates a fruit from a vegetable.
The word “vegetable” originated from the old French and appeared in the English vocabulary in the early 15th century and was essentially utilized for referring to any parts of edible plants.
The definition of vegetables given by Wikipedia is pretty broad:
Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds.Wikipedia
We can find an additional definition of vegetables on the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California:
A vegetable is the edible portion of a plant. Vegetables are usually grouped according to the portion of the plant that is eaten such as leaves (lettuce), stem (celery), roots (carrot), tubers (potato), bulbs (onion) and flowers (broccoli).vric.ucdavis.edu
Therefore, we can say that the word “vegetables” does not necessarily belong to botany, but is rather a culinary category that includes all parts of plants that can be eaten.
So, if it is to judge by the original definition of vegetables, we can say that oranges are also vegetables.
However, there is also am alternate definition of vegetables:
The alternate definition of the term is applied somewhat arbitrarily, often by culinary and cultural tradition. It may exclude foods derived from some plants that are fruits, flowers, nuts, and cereal grains, but include savoury fruits such as tomatoes and courgettes, flowers such as broccoli, and seeds such as pulses.Wikipedia
Consequently, this second definition of vegetables enables us to exclude certain foods that have a more precise categorization.
In this case, as oranges already match the definition of fruits, we will exclude them from the vast category of vegetables. Therefore, we can no longer say that oranges are vegetables, but fruits.
Oranges are fruits both from a botanical and culinary point of view.
Whether they can also be considered vegetables at the same time is debatable as there are multiple different definitions for the term “vegetables.” The initial meaning of this word is very broad and can include any edible plant parts, including fruits like oranges, while others exclude fruits and any plant types that fit a more particular category.