Fruits

ABSTRACT

Every fruit has a unique taste from other fruits. This difference is basically in two classes, namely sweet and sour. However, there are fruits which have no specific taste. Fruits like apples, ripe mangoes, watermelon and guavas, are sweet while lemon, oranges and raw mangoes are sour. This variation leads to a few questions: why does every fruit have a characteristic taste? What causes these differences? And does ripening have anything to do with these variations? This essay also seeks to explore seed dispersion Vis- a- Vis ripening and human activities as well as find out if seeds use fructose and starch in fruits for metabolic processes.

Why are some fruits sweet, others sour and a few no specific taste?

The taste of a fruit is dictated by both the compounds present in them and their composition. These compounds include fructose, starch, vitamins, acids, proteins and cellulose. All these substances are mixed up in different proportions depending on the fruit giving rise to a distinctive taste, either sour or sweet and at times tasteless. Therefore, the higher the concentration of either sucrose or acids relative to one another determines the taste of the fruit. Fruits that are sweet like guavas have more sucrose than acids while sour fruits like lemon have more acidic substances than sucrose. Fruits that have equal quantities of both sucrose and acids have a blended taste that is both sweet and sour, hence an unspecified taste.

Conventionally, all raw fruits have a higher acid concentration which levels down on ripening. This explains why raw mangoes are sweet when ripe, but sours when raw. In fruits like bananas, chemical processes that take place during ripening leads to breaking down of starch into sucrose hence making a ripe banana sweeter than a raw. Raw bananas have more starch than any other compound in it. It’s important to note that there may be taste disparity between two fruits of the same kind. This is basically due to varieties of fruits and factors like soil fertility, growing techniques employed in growing them and the climate its grown in. For instance, oranges grown in a temperate climate have a different taste from those grown in a hot climate. This is because such factors impact the proportion of compounds in the fruit hence differing tastes. Fruits like lemon taste sour even after ripening because they contain excessive amounts of acids. Therefore, a fruit’s components determine its taste.

How does the ripening of fruits affect seed dispersal?

Unlike animals, plants highly depend on animals for seed dispersal and for its longevity. Seed dispersal is simply the process by which seeds are moved from one location to another. Self-dispersal is one of the ways in which plants disperse their seeds but it’s not conclusive. For efficiency, plants have to depend on animals to spread their seeds. Ripening of fruits is quite important because, among other things, flowering takes place during times when vectors are in short supply. A ripe fruit helps to attract these vectors who in the process of picking nectar from the fruit pick up the seeds and spread them out. Another reason for this is, there is a need to attract vectors to the seeds even if they are many. Some fruits like pods always burst open when ripe, a process that is important for seed dispersion. This shows how important fruit ripening is as far as seed dispersion is concerned.

How do humans interfere in this process (seed dispersion) by consuming grains and fruits?

Fruits and grains form part of human food. They are rich sources of nutrients and no doubt obvious favorites to most humans’ world over. Study has shown that man’s love for fruits has far reaching importance to nature too. This is because, as humans feed on both grains and fruits, they serve as efficient vectors of seed dispersion. With fruits, man helps with dispersion in two major ways that are related. Firstly, humans swallow seeds especially nuts which are then moistened and its hard outer coating broken down throughout the digestive system. This makes it a viable seed when passed out as waste. However, this is limited because most humans now have access to latrines and toilets hence disabling any growth of these seeds

Secondly, humans help in seed dispersion by relocating viable seeds from one location to another. This is done either consciously or unconsciously. For example, one may buy pineapple from one area and after eating the juicy parts, throws the inedible pieces with seeds in another. If these seeds are viable, germination will take place especially if the right conditions for this process are in place. Through these two ways, humans help disperse seeds to the entire world, putting in mind the elaborate means of transport at man’s disposal.

Do seeds use fructose or starch in fruits for its metabolism?

Plants mainly utilize fructose to attract seed dispersing vectors like insects to areas containing seeds to be dispersed. During germination, seeds break down starch reserves to support metabolic processes before a plant is fully developed from the germinating seed. Thus, seeds do use fructose and starch at some point to support metabolism.