At maturity, these popular berries (or, rather, popular aggregate fruits) pack a nutritional punch and are among the most healthful foods out there. A cup of strawberries provides more than the average adult’s daily allowance of vitamin C as well as valuable antioxidants.
The "true fruits" of the strawberry are what we think of as the seeds. Technically, those small, yellow seed-like bits are called achenes, and each is a fruit. Inside each achene is the actual strawberry seed. An average-sized strawberry holds about 200 achenes.
Aggregate fruits form through the merging of multiple ovaries within a single flower. The strawberry grows from the plant's flower, and that sweet red flesh growing below the hull (or calyx) is called the receptacle. The flower’s white petals reflect ultraviolet light to attract bees, who will pollinate the fruit. The receptacle swells in size to attract animals who will eat them and scatter the "true fruit."
How Strawberries Grow
In the plant reproductive process, seeds form inside the ovary, where they are pollinated and grow into the fruit we are familiar with. While some plants appear to carry their seeds on the outside of the fruit, this simply isn't the case. It is commonly believed that the strawberry is the only fruit that wears its seeds on the outside. The strawberry is deceptive, though. Those tiny yellow specks are not really the seeds, and that sweet flesh we love is not the actual fruit.
While most of the talk about fruits with visible seeds centers on the strawberry, we cannot forget the equally deceptive cashew. The cashew tree can grow to over 40 feet and has large, bright green leaves and bright pink flowers. Although it appears that the cashew nut grows from fruit that looks like an apple or bell pepper, this is another case of the receptacle swelling to promote the true fruit—called a drupe.
The Spruce / Jayme Burrows
Anatomy of the Strawberry
Instead, strawberries are what is known as an aggregate fruit. Raspberries and blackberries fall into this category as well, and all of these fruits are in the same family as the rose, called Rosaceae.
The strawberry is a fruit, but it’s not classified in a way you might expect. Despite its name, the strawberry is not a “true berry” because it lacks the thin skin and pericarp (three layers formed from the wall of an ovary) that botanically define a berry. True berries include grapes, cranberries, and even tomatoes and eggplant.
It is fun to grow strawberries from seed! When you are ready to plant outside, be sure to reference the Growing Strawberries page.
The relationship of birds and strawberries is likely due to the prevalence of strawberry plants across the temperate world. The birds, obviously, love to eat strawberries, and the seeds generally pass through their digestive tracts intact and in good shape. As the birds defecate, they spread viable strawberry seeds far and wide.
Or, if you prefer still another method, you can also use a sieve. Take a strawberry, press the pulpy part through the sieve, and the seeds should be left in the sieve. Rinse the seeds, dry, and store the strawberry seeds for future planting.
Growing Strawberry Plants from Strawberry Seeds
Growing strawberry plants from seed is more difficult than simply buying strawberry plants. But, it can be much more rewarding as well. Once you have a strawberry plant growing, refer to our Growing Strawberries page for guidance on how to successfully produce a strawberry crop.
If weather allows, the strawberry seedlings can be planted directly outside, or the plants in the containers can be replanted outside. If the strawberry seeds were started indoors, the young strawberry plants need to be hardened off prior to planting outside. When the temperature rises into the 50s, begin taking the plants outside in the shade for several hours each day. Gradually increase the time the plants are outdoors, eventually leaving them outside overnight as the temperature allows. Begin moving them into the sun for increasing periods of time to finish the hardening off process prior to planting. This ensures your plants won’t be damaged or killed by their environmental changes.
Strawberry Seeds Information
Keep the soil moist well-lighted. Warmth can help the seeds germinate, so the top of a refrigerator or on a bottom heat pad can be suitable places for germination. If the strawberry plant seedlings aren’t in direct sunlight with supplemental light, consider providing additional artificial light. A fluorescent shop light or grow light will do the trick. Position the light source 3 to 4 inches from the seedlings, and raise the light as the strawberry plants grow. If the strawberry seeds sprout too close to each other, thin them when they are between 1 and 2 inches tall, keeping the biggest and most vigorous seedlings. Gently transfer the strawberry seedlings to larger containers or pots after they gain their 3rd leaves.
Strawberry seeds give rise to the strawberry plants that produce the strawberries we all love. We think everyone should have a fond affection for the little fellows (unless, of course, you get a strawberry seed stuck in a tooth or between your gums). If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. And, be sure to check back as additional information is added and linked below.