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Plants and People. Fruits. ovule. locule. The Carpel . The carpel is the basic unit of the gynoecium. Each carpel consists of an ovary connected to a stigma by the style.

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the carpel



The Carpel

The carpel is the basic unit of the gynoecium. Each carpel consists of an ovary connected to a stigma by the style.

Within within each carpel are one or more ovules, which will become the seed(s). The area of attachment is called the placenta (pl. = placentae) and the empty space in the chamber is called the locule (pl. = locules). The dividing walls are called the septa.





single carpel

fused carpels

the single carpel
The Single Carpel

A gynoecium with only one carpel is termed unicarpellate. A gynoecium of many separate carpels is termed apocarpous.





fused carpels
Fused Carpels

A gynoecium with many fused carpels is termed syncarpous and the flower is said to have a compound pistil.

Evolution of the fused carpel



basal placentation: attachment of ovules to the bottom of the ovary. One locule, no septa. Can be found in an apocarpous or syncarpous gynoecium.

apical placentation: The attachment of the ovules is at the apex (top) of the ovary. One locule, no septa. Can be found in an apocarpous or syncarpous gynoecium


parietal placentation: ovules are attached to the side walls of the ovary (or extrusions of the wall) such that an ovary usually has one locule and therefore no septa. Can only be found in a syncarpous gynoecium;

axile placentation: ovules are attached to an axis derived from the connate margins of the component carpels, such that an ovary is divided into two or more locules by septa. The ovules are borne along the central axis. Can only found in a syncarpous gynoecium.


free or central placentation: attachment of ovules to a free-standing central column in a syncarpous, unilocular ovary (one locule, no septa)

marginal placentation: ovules are attached to the folded margins of the carpel, giving the appearance that there is only one elongated placenta on one side of the ovary. Can only be found in a simple pistil. This is conspicuous in legumes.

simple fruits
Simple Fruits

A simple fruit is one that is derived from a single ovary, this ovary can be part of an apocarpous, syncarpous or unicarpellate gynoecium.

The ovary wall develops into the pericarp, or fruit wall. This may have three layers: the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.

The pericarp can develop in various ways, leading to the assortment of simple fruit types.

dry fruits
Dry Fruits

Dry fruits have the pericarp dry at maturity. Fruits which split open to release the seeds are termed dehiscent. Those that do not split open are called indehiscent.

indehiscent dry fruits
Indehiscent, Dry Fruits

Indehiscent, dry fruits do not split at maturity.

Subclasses of indehiscent fruits:


Grain (caryopsis)


indehiscent dry fruits achene
Indehiscent, Dry Fruits - Achene

Achene - single seeded, thin pericarp, seed coat is separate from ovary wall. Example: sunflower and strawberry “seeds”

indehiscent dry fruits grain
Indehiscent, Dry Fruits - Grain

Grain (caryopsis) - single seeded, pericarp fused with the ovary wall. Example: corn, wheat


indehiscent dry fruits nut
Indehiscent, Dry Fruits - Nut

Nut - single seeded, with hard or bony pericarp, wholly or partially surrounded by a husk of bracts. Example: hazelnut, walnut

dehiscent dry fruits
Dehiscent, Dry Fruits

Dehiscent fruits are characterized by the splitting of the pericarp to release the seeds.

Subclasses of dehiscent fruits:



dehiscent dry fruits legumes
Dehiscent, Dry Fruits - Legumes

Legume - usually dehisces along two sutures; from a simple pistil. Example: beans, peas, soybeans


one folded carpel



Unopened Legume

Legume Split Open

(1 carpel, 2 seams)

dehiscent dry fruits capsule
Dehiscent, Dry Fruits - Capsule

Capsule - usually from a compound pistil, usually many seeded. Pericarp opens with pores or slits. Example: okra (which we eat before maturity.)




dehisces along locules


okra is a capsule

fleshy fruits
Fleshy Fruits

Fleshy fruits are fruits in which all or part of the pericarp is fleshy and swollen at maturity.

Types of fleshy fruits:






fleshy fruits berry
Fleshy Fruits - Berry

Berry - one to multiple seeds, mesocarp is fleshy, endocarp is soft. Example: grape, tomato

fleshy fruits drupe
Fleshy Fruits - Drupe

Drupe - usually one seeded, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp usually hard. Example: peach, plum

fleshy fruits hesperidium
Fleshy Fruits - Hesperidium

Hesperidium - special kind of berry with leathery rind and oil glands dotting the surface. Example: lime, orange

fleshy fruits pepo
Fleshy Fruits - Pepo

Pepo fruits are simple fruits that are berrylike with a hard rind; almost always with three carpels and parietal placentation. Examples: melon, squash

fleshy fruits pome
Fleshy Fruits - Pome

Pome fruits are simple fruits that are berrylike with most of the flesh derived from a floral cup and receptacle. Example: Apple, pear


other fruit types non simple
Other Fruit Types (Non-Simple)

Other fruit types:





non simple fruits multiple
Non-Simple Fruits - Multiple

Multipe fruits are formed by the fusion of fruits of numerous independent flowers. Example: pineapple, fig

non simple fruits aggregate
Non-Simple Fruits - Aggregate

Aggregate fruits are those formed from several separate ovaries within a single flower. Examples: raspberry, blackberry

non simple fruits accessory
Non-Simple Fruits - Accessory

Accessory fruits are those where the “fruit” part is derived from something other than ovary tissue. A strawberry is a swollen receptacle and the seeds on the surface are the true fruits, called achenes.

today s lab activities
Today’s Lab Activities
  • You need to get information from the prop cards to add to your chart. For each fruit you need to record if it is a monocot or dicot, family and genus/species name, fruit type, origin and carpel number.
  • For some, carpel number will be given and for others you will need to determine the carpel number yourself by counting the carpels by either counting locules or points of attachments for seeds in an open fruit.
  • WARNING! If you have a severe allergy to poison ivy, you should not eatmango, pistachios, or cashews unless you know you are not sensitive to them
  • Other than allergy concerns, you are encouraged to taste things that are new to you by cutting small pieces to eat !! Have fun!