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What is the purpose of Fruit ?

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We've all seen an apple , an orange , a tomato , etc . So , what is the purpose of these in the bigger picture of the evolution of plants ? I know the fruit contains the seeds to make a new plant , what is the purpose of the rest of the apple , orange or tomato ?

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We've all seen an apple , an orange , a tomato , etc . So , what is the purpose of these in the bigger picture of the evolution of plants ? I know the fruit contains the seeds to make a new plant , what is the purpose of the rest of the apple , orange or tomato ?

 

It is attractive to animals. Animals eat the fruit, and then poop it out. The seeds have now been transported to a new location where it has ample fertilizer and new ground to take root in.

 

Also... if the fruit simply drops to the ground without being eaten by an animal... it is ideally shaped to roll away from the tree (on a slope for example) where it will eventually rot, thereby providing additional nutrients for the seeds.

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Also remember that how we see most fruits at the store is not how they were naturally formed. Many of the fruits and vegetable we buy have been bred to be the way we want them and not how they would have been found naturally.

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[Fruit] is attractive to animals. Animals eat the fruit, and then poop it out. The seeds have now been transported to a new location where it has ample fertilizer and new ground to take root in.

The word "fruit" literally means to use, to enjoy, so there's our ancestors' understanding of the enticement to animals.

 

In addition to the fruits mentioned above that travel through an animal's digestive track, some fruits entice animals who then carry them away to eat elsewhere; however, the seed itself may be large and/or hard to eat (peaches, cherries, etc) or are too inedible to eat (cashews (which are bitter when its fruit is ripe and sweet), etc), and so, the animals discard them (which allows them to sprout).

 

I'm guessing that, for tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc), the enticement is in the meat of the nut itself, but that the animals either forget where they hid them or found the shell too difficult to crack open, and thus, some survive to sprout when the shells rots.

Edited by ewmon

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Does anybody think that plants make fruit specifically for consumption by animals , in other words , do plants specifically have as their goal the consumption of their fruit as a route of getting their seeds to grow ?

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Does anybody think that plants make fruit specifically for consumption by animals , in other words , do plants specifically have as their goal the consumption of their fruit as a route of getting their seeds to grow ?

That symbiotic relationship has certainly evolved in some plants.

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We've all seen an apple , an orange , a tomato , etc . So , what is the purpose of these in the bigger picture of the evolution of plants ? I know the fruit contains the seeds to make a new plant , what is the purpose of the rest of the apple , orange or tomato ?

 

If a tree were to drop its seeds directly on the ground below it this would mean that the parent would be in direct competition with its offspring (is offspring the right word when applied to plants? I dunno, but you get what I mean). Plants have developed ways of avoiding this, some seeds are adapted to be carried away by the wind - like sycamore seeds.

 

Others use the help of animals in a kind of trade off. The tree/plant encases its seeds in a tasty berry or fruit so that an animal will eat it, carry it off in it's stomach and excrete the seeds out in a different location, away from direct competition with the parent.

 

It's also worth noting that some fruits have been artificially selected by humans for greater size/better taste. The ancestral banana actually looked like this before humans started selectively adapting it for their purposes:

796px-Inside_a_wild-type_banana.jpg

 

So in short, fruit exists as a transport system to get the seeds as far away from the parent plant as possible, and some fruits have been enlarged etc by human intervention.

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Given our inability to produce vitamin C it seems that plants have influenced us in much the same way that we have influenced them.

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Does anybody think that plants make fruit specifically for consumption by animals , in other words , do plants specifically have as their goal the consumption of their fruit as a route of getting their seeds to grow ?

 

Plants don't have goals, natural selection has selected for advantageous traits. It's not as though a plant could think 'I know, I want to get my seeds transported further away, I will make some fruit so that animals can transport them in their stomachs' - although I'm sure you're aware of this. Questions of purpose, and goals in evolution don't really make sense.

 

This is speculation on my part, so don't take it as fact, but it provides an example of how fruit might have evolved. If there was a plant that developed seeds, perhaps in a small juicy case (adapted for other purposes) that animals adapted to eat and subsequently poop out in a different area, inadvertently that plant would have created a means of spreading its seeds across a wider range - this would have an impact upon its success. The plants that provided the tastiest, most visible fruits would have an advantage over others, so there would be a trend towards sweeter, more nutritious fruit that was brightly coloured to stand out in high contrast against the green background. Over time fruit would get bigger and juicier because the bigger and juicier fruits would be more likely to get eaten, and thus have their seeds germinated (ensuring the survival of their genes into the next generation).

 

Its not as though the goal of the plant is to have it's fruit eaten, its just an advantageous way of doing things therefore it was selected for by natural selection.

 

It's similar to how some plants use insects to transport their pollen by bribing them with nectar or adapting to look like an insect (so that the insect will attempt to mate with it). They don't do so purposefully, it was just that natural selection blindly stumbled upon an advantageous way of doing things.

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Quite an interesting topic for me.

 

Consider I have a cherry tree in my garden, however if I eat the fruit I will probably be extremely ill as they are

not edible cherries.

 

 

Thus I would suggest the fruit is there as a source of food for the seed and not intended to be eaten.

 

It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation or double edged sword.

 

For example few people would eat apple seeds as they contain cyanide!!!

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Quite an interesting topic for me.

 

Consider I have a cherry tree in my garden, however if I eat the fruit I will probably be extremely ill as they are

not edible cherries.

 

Birds can eat a lot of berries that we can't.

 

Thus I would suggest the fruit is there as a source of food for the seed and not intended to be eaten.

 

It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation or double edged sword.

 

For example few people would eat apple seeds as they contain cyanide!!!

 

Even if you don't eat the actual seed, you'd still be taking it away from the tree and discarding them somewhere!

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I know plenty of people who eat apple seeds. As long as you don't chew them they don't release any cyanide and, in due course they make their way out.

 

Not much use to the apple tree when the seeds get flushed, but other animals eat apples too and they would do a fine job of spreading (and fertilising) the seeds.

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It would be interested to know how many animals became alchoholics when fruit grew in the wild abundantly without humans due to fermentation.

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