Previous: How did eating popcorn become a custom at movie theaters? - Big Questions - (Ep. 213)
Next: Misconceptions about Eyes - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 50)



View count:201,462
Last sync:2024-07-12 09:00
A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, Adriene shares some little known facts about fruit!

Subscribe for new episodes of mental_floss every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!


Mental Floss Video on Twitter:

Select Images and Footage provided by Shutterstock:

Store: (enter promo code: "YoutubeFlossers" for 15% off!)
Hi.  I'm Adriene. Welcome to the beautiful salon. This is mental_floss video, and did you know that the word pomegranate comes from two Latin words? It can be translated to mean "seeded apple", and that's the first of many facts about fruits that I'm going to share with you today.


Let's begin by distinguishing between fruits, berries, and drupes. Fruits come from plants that produce seeds and they're actually the ovary or ovaries of the plant. That means they're the part that distributes the seeds. So interestingly, coffee beans are actually fruit pits.  

Berries are technically fruits as well, but they come from individual flowers with one ovary and there's usually a pulp-like substance surrounding the berry's seeds.  

Drupes are very similar to berries, but they have an endocarp, which is a membrane or hard layer around their seed.  

So now that you know all of that, I can tell you that a banana is technically a berry without shocking you.  

Bananas are also radioactive, though not enough to make you sick. Basically, because a certain isotope of potassium decays and there's potassium in bananas, they emit beta rays. This banana is literally the size of an ape. That's a lot of radioactivity.  

Just like bananas, watermelons are also a type of berry known as a pepo, because they have hard skins.

Speaking of watermelon, there's something called a Densuke watermelon and they're extremely rare. They're only found on Japan's Hokkaido island, and the most valuable come from the first harvest, which only has around 65 fruit. In 2008, one single Densuke sold for $6100 at an auction.

Square watermelons also grow in Japan, and they're one of the items that Axl Rose requests on his tour rider.  

If you were surprised to learn that bananas and watermelons are berries, you'll probably also be shocked to learn that strawberries aren't. They're known as accessory fruits, because most of the fruit comes from the plant's tissues, not the ovary.

And strawberries actually contain more vitamin C than oranges do. One serving contains around 86.5 milligrams of Vitamin C compared to the 82.7 milligrams in an orange.

And while it might look like there are seeds on the outside of a strawberry, there actually aren't. Those white seed-looking things are the actual fruit with the seed inside them.

Lemons float and limes sink, even though they can be about the same weight, and according to one experimenter, they only have about a 0.1 gram per milliliter difference in density from each other, but it's just enough difference that limes are denser than water and they sink. Lemons aren't, so they float.

Lemons probably originated as a hybrid. One study found that they were likely made from two fruits: bitter orange and citron.  

One of the first trees that the colonists planted in the US was a pear tree. It was planted in the 1630s and still exists in Danvers, Massachusetts today.  

There are over 750 known species of figs, and in order for each of them to come into existence, they needed their own corresponding species of pollinating fig wasp.

In 1928, Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin after the mold grew on some of his petri dishes, but in the '40s, the discovery was taken to a new level when a lab assistant found a moldy cantaloupe that contained a similar fungus in the same family, which produced 200 times more penicillin.  

Cantaloupes aren't all good, though. In 2011, the worst known food-borne illness outbreak in the US in 25 years occurred when cantaloupes from Colorado were contaminated. 30 people died of listeriosis.

There's a city in Washington state named George, and because of the connection to our first president, many of its streets are named after types of cherries.

And speaking of cherries, the Roald Dahl novel, James and the Giant Peach, was originally about a cherry.

Peaches, by the way, were the first fruit to be eaten on the moon. The astronauts in the Apollo 11 ate peaches there.  

You should avoid eating peach, cherry, or apricot pits on the moon or otherwise, because they have amygdalin, which is a cyanide and sugar compound.  

Kiwis were originally called "Chinese gooseberries", but when New Zealand wanted to export them to the US in the 1950s, they had to rename them. There were high import tariffs for berries plus the word "Chinese" wasn't too popular in the US during the Cold War.

In 2012, a semi-truck split on a highway in Wisconsin and 50,000 lbs of cranberries spilled everywhere. No one was injured. A similar incident happened on a New Hampshire highway in 2014. Basically, watch out for cranberry trucks.

Blackcurrant was once a popular fruit in the US, but it was banned in the early 20th century because it carried a disease that damaged the white pine, which was important to the logging industry. Now, it's legal here, but many people have never even heard of it.

Apples are about 18% air and there are about 36 apples in one gallon of apple cider.

2.5 lbs of grapes are used for a single bottle of wine.

And it takes 50 glasses of water to grow the oranges found in one glass of orange juice.

Miracle fruit is a fruit that makes sour foods taste sweet after you eat it.  

It's a myth that bilberries are good for night vision, but they might be good for vision in general.

It takes at least two years for a pineapple to mature. And pineapple leaves can be used to make a soft fabric known as piña cloth.  

Mango skin contains urushiol, which can be found in the sap of poison ivy.

Grapefruits probably got their name because they grow on trees in a way similar to grapes or it might be a corruption of "great fruit".

It's a myth that the white part of blueberries are pesticides. It's a natural defense against the sun and insects.

Finally, I return to the salon to tell you that boysenberries are becoming very rare. They used to be the most commonly grown berry bush in California, but they're slowly being replaced by hybrid berries like the ruby boysen, a hybrid between boysen-, logan-, and mulberries.  

Thanks for watching mental_floss video, which is made with the help of all of these nice people. Again, I'm Adriene, I sometimes host CrashCourse Economics. You can check it out here, and let me know your favorite fruit in the comments. Bye.