Is Broccoli a Fruit or Vegetable?

Is broccoli a fruit or vegetable? This is going to be the focus of this article as we take a deep dive into this issue and hopefully leave you with a better understanding of how to classify it.

The debate over what constitutes a fruit or vegetable has virtually gone on for centuries. I’m sure the reason you are reading this article is due to the fact that your established narrative has somewhat been challenged and you are doing some research in order to test its merits.

If you are like most of us, vegetables are vegetables and fruits are fruits based on what you have been brought up to accept as truths. Unfortunately, though, some of these classifications have not always been factual. So, where exactly does broccoli fall in this debate? Here is a short summary of the answer:

Is Broccoli a Fruit or Vegetable?

Broccoli is a vegetable and falls under the classification of what is known as flower head vegetables. These are vegetables that look like flowers with thick stems. The heads only look like flowers as they actually do flower at a later stage.

What Makes a Fruit?

To build context, let’s look at what actually constitutes a fruit. There are two schools of thought which govern this classification. The first of these is the culinary definition.

This is most likely the definition which you would be used to. The culinary definition is what is used in the culinary arts. Basically, it states that a fruit is sweet while a vegetable is savoury.

This is simple and straightforward and avoids any confusion within the contextual confines of the arts. As I said before, you most likely have been exposed throughout your life and are most familiar with this.

You probably may have heard the “tomato is a fruit” argument but not really known what the reasoning behind that was. It’s the classification used in most homes unless of course, you are a botanical expert.

They have their own definition of a fruit which is a bit more technical and not as simplified as the culinary one. The botanical definition of a fruit is the fully developed result of the pods of a plant’s flower that contain seed in them.

When you look at this, you will realize why a tomato is classified as a fruit and not a vegetable. You will also realise that a lot of what we have called vegetables are in actual fact fruits even though they are savoury.

Things like okra, avocadoes, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, peas, eggplants, string beans and others are actually fruits.

What Makes a Vegetable?

So, what then is a vegetable? Once again, we will talk about the culinary definition of a vegetable which classifies them as a savoury plant food.

Once again, this is an oversimplification of things that serves a purpose within the culinary field. However, in the context of the botanical field of study, a vegetable is any edible part of a plant that is either like the leaves, stems, or roots.

So, this is any part of the plant outside of the fruit. If you can eat the leaves, stem, or roots, it is classified as a vegetable. So lettuce, spinach, potatoes, cauliflower, and others, fall under the botanical classification of a vegetable.

Broccoli: A Fruit or a Vegetable?

Broccoli is sometimes referred to as a flower head vegetable in some corners. This is because it has the appearance of a flower. This is because it has multiple thick stems with what look like flowers at the end.

Does this make it a flower though? Not quite. The main reason for this is that it eventually does flower at full maturity. What we find in supermarkets or the fresh produce market is what’s harvested prior to full maturity.

When we look at the definition of a fruit, it is what results when the pods of flowers reach full maturity and contain seed in them.

By this definition, broccoli is not a fruit. It is, by all definitions, a vegetable. This is an instance where both the culinary and botanical definitions are not at odds with each other.

Concluding Thoughts

Now that you are armed with this information, you can throw this in as the subject of a great dinner conversation. Your subject matter will be right in front of you. So, to conclude it all, broccoli is 100% a vegetable.