Fact Check: Are Bananas a Type of Berry?

Social media users have been discussing how fruits including bananas are classified, with the answers proving surprising for some.

The Claim

Google Trends data shows that in the past day, there has been a spike in people searching for answers on whether bananas are a type of berry.

Searches include "why is a banana a berry," and "why is a banana considered a berry."

Social media users have also been discussing this point, which may have contributed to the increased search.

A search on Twitter on the topic brings up numerous claims that bananas are berries, with some users also stating that strawberries are not berries and alluding to the idea that these claims seems counterintuitive.

In a post earlier this month that gained more than a thousand likes, one Twitter user said: "A banana is actually a berry and a strawberry isn't."

A banana is actually a berry and a strawberry isn’t.

— Fact (@Fact) August 11, 2021

Growing up is realizing a banana is a berry not a fruit

— Tae🧞‍♀️ (@JankyyTae) July 11, 2021

Lex Fridman, an artificial intelligence researcher and popular podcast host with nearly 750,000 Twitter followers, tweeted in June: "A strawberry is not a berry. On the other hand, bananas and eggplants are berries."

A strawberry is not a berry. On the other hand, bananas and eggplants are berries.

This is not sexual innuendo, just botany.

The world does not always have to make sense.

— Lex Fridman (@lexfridman) June 8, 2021

There are also TikTok videos of users claiming or reacting to the claim that bananas are berries, such as this one.

The Facts

According to an article published by Canada's McGill University, bananas are indeed berries from a scientific, botanical point of view.

Confusion in the classification of some fruits arises from the fact that some with "berry" in their name are not classed as berries scientifically.

For example, people commonly call raspberries and strawberries berries when they are technically not berries.

Berries are divided into three layers—an exocarp, which is the outer layer; the mesocarp, the inner bit we usually eat; and the endocarp, the part in the middle that contains the seeds.

For a fruit to be a berry, it has to have seeds and a pulp from the ovary of a flower, according to Ada McVean and Cassandra Lee from McGill's Office for Science and Society.

The Britannica encyclopedia states that a berry is a fleshy fruit, usually with multiple seeds in it, that comes from the single ovary of an individual flower.

A banana meets the criteria listed above.

Britannica also distinguishes berries from drupes.

Drupes are a type of fruit similar to berries but have a tough endocarp surrounding the seed. They may also have stones or pits rather than what people might usually call a seed.

Finally, there are aggregate and accessory fruits, like strawberries and raspberries. These either come from multiple parts of a flower or from a part of a flower that is not the ovary, according to Aly Baumgartner, a paleobotanist and a collections manager at the Sternberg Museum.

The Ruling

Fact Check - True

True.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

Bananas are a type of berry, as per the botanical definition.

A berry has an outer layer called the exocarp; the mesocarp, the inner bit we usually eat; and the endocarp, the part in the middle that contains the seeds.

A berry is a fleshy fruit, usually with multiple seeds in it, that comes from the single ovary of an individual flower.

A banana meets all of those criteria and can therefore be classed as a berry.

Person holding a banana
A stock image shows a person holding a banana against a pink background. Bananas are a type of berry. Makidotvn/Getty