Mushrooms are delicious and packed with vitamins and minerals. So what does it matter if they’re classified as a veggie, a fruit, or something else entirely? Well, whether you’re wondering if your mushroom meals need additional veggies to be balanced and healthy, or you just like to collect knowledge on semantics, read on to find out.
You probably already know that a mushroom is a fungus. Multiple mushrooms are fungi. The Fungi kingdom is separate from the Animal and Plant kingdoms – and yes, this is why every mushroom has a crown.
Well, the stem of the mushroom is the fungus. The top part, seen above the ground and full of delicious umami, is known as the “fruiting body.”
So is a mushroom a fruit?
A fruit is a structure that grows in the ovary of a flowering plant, and it must contain seeds. Mushrooms do not have flowers anywhere on them, and they never contain seeds. So, this is why a mushroom is not a fruit, yet a tomato or a cucumber is, even though we don’t consider them to be essential parts of a fruit salad.
Vegetables, on the other hand, have a much broader definition. A veggie is basically any edible part of a plant that is not a fruit. You’ve got your roots – carrots and potatoes, leaves like kale and lettuce, and stems like asparagus and celery. Peas are considered vegetables even though they are, in fact, seeds.
Mushrooms are an edible part of a… well, not a plant. They’re not in the plant kingdom at all. They’re in their own kingdom. So they’re not vegetables.
Though mushrooms do not have seeds, the above-ground portion, the fruiting structure, allows it to reproduce. So, a mushroom is more analogous to a fruit than a vegetable, but it’s really in a kingdom all its own.