Super-Morph: Botanist In The Produce Aisle

Oct 31, 2014

Plant morphology in the supermarket. (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Sandor Weisz

"Plant Morphology in the Supermarket," by Peter Lesica and Annie Garde.

"As the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown and drop as well, it gets hard for a botanist in Montana to find anything interesting to study outside. At this time of year I go on field trips to the supermarket. In the produce section the leaves are still green, and you can always find some germinating alfalfa and mung beans.There's a lot to be learned among the aisles, but there's a distressing amount of misinformation as well. Consider this: In most stores the produce area is divided into two sections: fruits and vegetables. Right here they're leading you astray. The glossary of my botany text defines fruit as a ripened ovary containing the seeds. A vegetable is the vegetative part of the plant, not involved in reproduction. These definitions are simple and straightforward, but most supermarkets have it all screwed up."

(Broadcast: "Fieldnotes," 11/2/14 & 11/3/14. Listen Sundays at 12:25 p.m. or Mondays at 3:00 p.m., or via podcast.)