Like animals, all plants are grouped into different types of families based on the characteristics they share. It may seem pretty obvious that a butternut squash and a pumpkin are in the same family, but there are other food relations that might seem a bit odd and surprising to you.
An apple is a fruit and a rose is a flower. Almost all people understand that difference. But what few people realize is that the apple is actually part of the rose family called Rosaceae. It makes sense when you think about it. A hopeless lover will try to win the heart of his beloved with a rose, and a student in need of a good grade will give an apple as a gift to his teacher.
Plants are grouped into categories based on the following distinctions: kingdom, division, class, order, family, subfamily, genus, and species. The more categories shared by certain plants means that they are closer related. In the case of apples and roses, they share the same kingdom, division, class, order and family, and only differ in subfamily, genus, and species.
Strangely enough, strawberries are also related to the rose family. One way to distinguish these relationships is through the flower type. Apple flowers, strawberry flowers, and rose flowers all share similar flower types, though the rose obviously wins the contests for beauty. Furthermore, if you leave a rose to dry on the stalk (instead of cutting it when it is flowering) the petals will eventually wilt and fall off leaving a small apple shaped fruit in the middle.
Though our modern day culture has very different uses and purposes for the apple and the rose, they are indeed very similar when it comes to the specific characteristics of their DNA and their plant traits. But apples aren’t the only fruit that form part of the rose family. Pears, quinces, apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, and strawberries are also a part of the Rosaceae family.
Another somewhat strange family relation in the plant kingdom is watermelon and cucumbers. Though we may consider one to be a fruit and the other a vegetable, they are both members of the cucurbitaceae family. Though they may have radically different tastes, they both grown on vines and have similarly shaped seeds and flowers.
Tomatoes and potatoes sure sound a lot alike though they don´t seem to have a whole lot in common besides being vegetables. Tomatoes can be eaten fresh in salads, while a raw potato isn´t exactly one´s idea of a good snack. Despite their differences, tomatoes and potatoes are both part of the solanum genus of plants, meaning that they´re even more closely related that apples and roses. Eggplant is another vegetable that shares this family group with the tomato and potato. The three main food crops of the solanum family then are colored brown, purple, and red.
Though we humans may classify foods into varieties such as vegetables, fruits, and grains, the plant world has its own way of classifying fruits according to their genetic relatedness.