Fruit or Vegetable?


Photo by Bill Benzon under CC BY-SA 2.0
Is a Fig a Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically, this is...
Culinarily, this is...

Figs are fruits. This is obvious from their sweetness. They’re one of the sweetest fruits, in fact, with over double the sugar of any vegetable.

Honestly, I’ve only ever had figs in these cookies:

Fig Newtons 12-Pack

However, only eating things in cookies is pretty indicative of that thing being a fruit culinarily. Other than Fig Newtons, they’re usually eaten raw or in jams, which is what you would expect for a fruit.

Botanically, figs are weird. They are fruits, but they are multiple fruits because they actually start out as many separate flowers, which then create many separate drupes, which then all merge together to create a new single fruit. Even if you have seen a whole fig, you might not have imagined this. That’s because these fruits—as I understand it—grow inside a stem, inwards and towards each other. The whole “fruit” that we pick and eat is actually part of the stem called a syconium which contains this multiple fruit. Because the stem itself is fleshy and part of the “fruit,” figs are also accessory fruits.

Of course, unless you are a botanist, you probably have no more than a passing interest in any of this technical rigor. This demonstrates how botanical definitions are pretty useless for ordinary people. Figs are fruits in general because they’re sweet plant bits.