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Dictionary of Fruit and Seed Morphological Terms

Developing a revised and improved system of morphological fruit classification that leads to the development of interactive identification tools and the publication of A Dictionary of Fruit and Seed Morphological Terms.
Fruits and seeds (Image: Wolfgang Stuppy)

The main project purpose is to develop a revised and expanded classification of fruit types.

The use of seed and fruit morphological terminology in the literature is inconsistent, confusing and sometimes outright incorrect. Since the 18th century, more than 150 names for the different kinds of fruit have been employed by botanists. Although several comprehensive reviews have been undertaken, most notably by Bischoff (1833), Dumortier (1835), Lindley (1832, 1848), Spjut (1994) and Barroso et al. (1999), an all-inclusive, consistent and widely accepted morphological classification of fruit types is still lacking.

Together with Richard Spjut, Wolfgang Stuppy is currently working on an improved and expanded classification of fruit types, based on Spjut’s earlier work from 1994, which aims to provide a consistent language and solid framework for the systematic classification of fruit types. Such a solid basis is needed in order to effectively use and exploit fruit morphological characters for identification and phylogenetic research.


  • Barroso, G. M., M. P. Morim, A. L. Peixoto and C. L. F. Ichaso (1999). Frutos e sementes. Morfologia aplicada à sistemática de dicotiledôneas. Editora UFV, Universidade Federale de Viçosa, MG, Brasil.
  • Bischoff, G.W. (1833). Handbuch der botanischen Terminologie und Systemkunde, Vol. 1. Johann Leonhard Schrag, Nürnberg.
  • Dumortier, B.C. (1835). Essai carpographique présentant une nouvelle classfication des fruits. M. Hayez, Imprimeur de l'Académie Royale, Bruxelles.
  • Lindley, J. (1832). An introduction to botany. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans, London.
  • Lindley, J. (1848). An introduction to botany, 4th ed. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, London.
  • Spjut, R.W. (1994). A systematic treatment of fruit types. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 70:1-182.

An interactive key to angiosperm fruit types

The new classification of fruit types will be translated into a LUCID-based interactive key to angiosperm fruit types which will serve as a basis for further plant identification keys based on fruit characters.

A Dictionary of Fruit and Seed Morphological Terms

The final product of this project will be a comprehensive Dictionary of Fruit and Seed Morphological Terms, published by Papadakis Publisher.

Project partners and collaborators


Richard Spjut


Papadakis Publisher

Project Department

Project Leader: