In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.
The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state, such as apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, juniper, berries and bananas.
Seed-associated structures that do not fit these informal criteria are usually called by other names, such as vegetables, pods, nut, ears and cone.
Many hundreds of fruits, including fleshy fruits like apple, peach, pear, kiwifruit, watermelon and mango are commercially valuable as human food, eaten both fresh and as jams, marmalade and other preserves. Fruits are also in manufactured foods like cookies, muffins, yogurt, ice cream, cakes, and many more. Many fruits are used to make beverages, such as fruit juices (orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, etc.) or alcoholic beverages, such as wine or brandy. Apples are often used to make vinegar. Fruits are also used for gift giving, Fruit Basket and Fruit Bouquet are some common forms of fruit gifts.
Many vegetables are botanical fruits, including tomato, bell pepper, eggplant, okra, squash, pumpkin, green bean, cucumber and zucchini. Olive fruit is pressed for olive oil. Spices like vanilla, paprika, allspice and black pepper are derived from berries.
Because fruits have been such a major part of the human
diet, different cultures have developed many different uses for various
fruits that they do not depend on as being edible. Many dry fruits are
used as decorations or in dried flower arrangements, such as unicorn plant, lotus, wheat, annual honesty and milkweed. Ornamental trees and shrubs are often cultivated for their colorful fruits, including holly, pyracantha, viburnum, skimmia, beautyberry and cotoneaster.
Fruits of opium poppy are the source of opium which contains the drugs morphine and codeine, as well as the biologically inactive chemical the abaine from which the drug oxycodone is synthesized. Osage orange fruits are used to repel cockroaches. Bayberry fruits provide a wax often used to make candles. Many fruits provide natural dyes, e.g. walnut, sumac, cherry and mulberry. Dried gourds are used as decorations, water jugs, bird houses, musical instruments, cups and dishes. Pumpkins are carved into Jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween. The spiny fruit of burdock or cocklebur were the inspiration for the invention of Velcro.
Coir is a fiber from the fruit of coconut
that is used for doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles, sacking,
insulation and as a growing medium for container plants. The shell of
the coconut fruit is used to make souvenir heads, cups, bowls, musical
instruments and bird houses.
A fruit tree is a tree bearing fruit that is consumed or used by people — all trees that are flowering plants produce fruit, which are the ripened ovary of a flower containing one or more seeds. In horticultural usage, the term 'fruit tree' is limited to those that provide fruit for human food. Types of fruits are described and defined elsewhere, but would include fruit in a culinary sense as well as some nut bearing trees, like walnuts.
The scientific study and the cultivation of fruits is called pomology, which divides fruits into groups based on plant morphology and anatomy. Some of those groups are: Pome fruits, which include apples and pears; and stone fruits which include peaches/nectarines, almonds, apricots, plums and cherries.