Is Onion a Fruit?


What is the definitive answer to what is an onion classified as? Is onion a fruit? There are some potentially unexpected findings as based on science and as based on culture. Come explore facts on how onion is classified!

What is the Difference Between a Fruit and a Vegetable?

Culturally speaking, we tend to think of fruits as anything that grows on a plant, bush or tree and is sweet. And vegetables are anything that are not sweet. But is that really the case from a scientific perspective? Let’s look at vegetables and fruits according to how botany classifies them.

What is a Fruit?

Fruit. How Are Fruits Classified? In the case of a fruit, from a scientific perspective, the edible part is grown from the flower of a plant. Believe it or not, there are many vegetables that we know as vegetables, that are fruits. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and more all grow from the flower of the plant. Fruits contain seeds.

What is a Vegetable?

Vegetable. The edible portion of a vegetable can be grown above ground or under the ground. It can consist of bulbs, roots, stems, and leaves.

Is Onion a Vegetable Or A Fruit? {Onion Classification}

According to culture and the culinary world, most would say that an onion is a vegetable because it has a savory flavor. But is that really the case scientifically speaking?

Let analyze the structure of an onion. It does have a bulb that grows underground, but it has roots, a form of leaves, and the plant itself is the edible structure. Therefore, we would say that an onion is a vegetable scientifically speaking as well as culturally speaking. It is not a fruit.

Keep reading for more information on what to know about onions as a vegetable.

What Makes an Onion a Vegetable?

The structure of the onion plant and the fact that the edible portion is the plant itself it what makes an onion a vegetable according to botany and science.

Onions don’t contain seeds and they don’t grow from the flower part of the plant, which if they did would qualify them as a fruit.

What Makes a Vegetable a Vegetable?

A vegetable is a vegetable because it doesn’t contain a seedy outgrowth like a fruit does. A vegetable is any portion of a plant that is edible, such as the leaves (lettuce), roots (parsnips), stalks (celery), tubers (potatoes), bulbs (onions), or flowers (broccoli).

Why Do People Mistake Onions as Fruits?

Why Do People Think Onions are Fruits? Sometimes people mistake onions as fruits because they argue that onions are produced from the bulbs.

So, why do some People Say an Onion is a Fruit? In keeping with our scientific classification and definition of what constitutes a fruit above, we cannot classify an onion as a fruit because the onion does not form from the flower on the plant. And it doesn’t contain seeds inside.

Onion plants do flower biennially (every two years), but the flower grows on the plant after the onion is well established. It produces seeds, not vice versa which is required for the classification of a fruit.

Where Do Onion Seeds Come From?

Onion seeds come from the top of a well-established onion plant. If left to grow for more than a season, onion plants will flower every two years, and seeds are produced from the flowers.

Onions can be grown from their seeds as well as from their bulbs. The fact that onions can grow from their bulbs, which have no seeds can be quite confusing.

Are Onions Root Vegetables?

Are onions root vegetables? Yes, like garlic, chives, carrots, parsnips and a host of other vegetables, onions are considered root vegetables. Root vegetables include the classification that the growing point is below the soil. But, potentially the stems of the onion plant can also be consumed as well as the bulb.

Commonly Mislabeled Vegetables and Fruits

After researching the definition of fruits and vegetables according to the culinary world and according to the scientific world, it’s plain to see that there are many commonly mislabeled vegetables and fruits. Some of those items are as follows:

tomatoes – is actually a fruit because it contains seeds and is formed from the flower
cucumbers – actually is a fruit because it contains seeds and is formed from the flower
corn – can be considered both a fruit and a vegetable
green beans – are really a fruit because they contain seeds
rhubarb – is really a vegetable because the stalk is the consumable portion
avocado – is really a fruit

Are there any other mislabeled fruits and vegetables?

Are Onions Easy to Grow?

Yes, onions are relatively easy to grow. They need the basic necessities that all plants need including sunshine, good soil, and a regular source of water, but they don’t require much space, can be used for a variety of purposes, and are easy to grow.  

Don’t require much space. Onions can be grown in pots, planters, grow bags, flower beds or anyplace where there’s a few feet of good dirt available. They do well in a variety of locations, given they have access to sunlight and water.

Variety of uses. Onions can be used in a variety of ways. They are indeed one of the most versatile ingredients in the cooking world. They can be boiled, fried, grilled, pickled, sliced, sautéed, eaten raw, served in salads, on a sandwich, or used as a garnish. Not to mention all the uses for onions that are non-cooking related.

Easy to grow. Onions can be grown from seed, or from an onion itself.

They need to have full sunlight of at least 6 hours a day.

And should be planted in well-drained soil. Onion seeds can be planted 1 or 2 inches apart, and onion bulbs can be planted 4 to 6 inches apart. When watering onions, they should receive about an inch of water per week.

If planting onions outside, you should wait until after the threat of frost has passed. Onions can be grown inside year-round.

planting green onions

Do I Need a Garden To Grow Onions?

No, you don’t need a garden to grow onions. Onions can be grown in a flower bed, in a patio pot, or even inside your house. Just use good, rich soil and make sure they’re provided with plenty of sunshine and are watered regularly.

We grow onions in both our flower bed and in a pot inside our house. They’re great to have available year-round for use in your cooking dishes as added flavoring as well as a beautiful green garnish.

What Are the Health Benefits of Onions?

There are many health benefits to eating onions. Onions are full of nutrients, are loaded with antioxidants, benefit heart health and could fight cancer, they have antibacterial properties, can aid in boosting digestive health, help control blood sugar, and can aid in bone density.

Onions contain the following vitamins and minerals:
vitamin C
vitamin B6

Is An Onion A Fruit?

No, an onion is not a fruit because the edible part is not grown from the flower of the plant and it doesn’t contain seeds. Therefore, and onion cannot be classified as a fruit.

Is An Onion A Vegetable?

Is an onion a vegetable or an herb? Yes, an onion is classified as a vegetable. The leaves and the bulb are the edible portion of the plant, therefore an onion is a vegetable.

Is An Onion A Root?

No, an onion is not a root. Many times, an onion gets confused as a root because it grows under the ground. However, it is not a root vegetable. Instead, it is a bulb and can be referred to as a stem because the formation is a modified stem.

Is An Onion A Berry?

The classification of a berry is a small, round in shape, juicy fruit. Since an onion is not a fruit and does not fit the classification of a berry. It is not a berry. It is a vegetable.

Is An Onion A Bulb?

Yes, and onion is a bulb, but it is not solely a bulb. The entire portion of the plant is edible therefore making it not only a bulb, but also a vegetable.

How to Grow Healthy Onions

The key to growing health onions is 4 things: good seeds or bulbs, good soil, water, and several hours of sunlight. This also assumes that the season for growing onions outside is ideal.

You’ll want nice warm conditions after the threat of frost has passed. If you have met each of these conditions, you should be able to produce nice healthy onions.

Archaeology of Fruits & Vegetables – Red Onion

Red onions are a specific type of onion that can be grown and is also great for many aspects of cooking. It can be used to enhance the flavor of dishes as well as add a beautiful dimension of color.

What is a Red Onion?

Some might say that a red onion is actually purple or reddish in color, but when you cut them open the flesh is actually white and the colorful skin is layered throughout.

Red onions can be medium to large in size, and they have a sharp flavor when eaten raw.

Why are Red Onions Good for You?

Red onions might be considered to provide the greatest health benefits of all onions. They have great antioxidants, include quercetin, as well as anthocyanin. They are thought to be the most effective at killing human cancer cells compared to all the other onions.

Red onions can also be considered super foods because of their beneficial nutrients.

When Are Red Onions in Season?

Red onions can be planted in spring or summer in cooler climates and even during winter in warmer Mediterranean climates.

Onions are typically harvested in late summer to early fall, depending on the growing climate.

How Should Onions Be Stored?

After harvest, onions are best stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Moisture in the storage location can cause mold to form decreasing their shelf life.

We tend to store onions used for cooking in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. This provides the recommended storage conditions for ideal length of life.

How Can I Cut An Onion Without Crying?

If you’re someone who’s sensitive to the chemical released in onions that makes people cry when cutting onions, you’ll likely welcome any tips to avoid this dilemma. Here are some ideas of how to cut an onion without crying:

1. Use a sharp knife. Using a good sharp knife can help to make a nice, crisp cut when working with onions. This releases less sulfur from the onion rather than using a dull blade and smashing the onions pieces which releases more of the chemical.

2. Keep the cut side down. Keep the cut side of the onion down on your cutting board as you go to prevent more chemicals from escaping into the air and causing greater discomfort.

3. Cool the onion first. If you cool the onion in the refrigerator or the freezer for a bit before cutting it, it can help to alleviate some of the chemical effects.

4.  Soak it in cool water. Soaking the onion in cool water before peeling it and cutting it can help in much of the same way.

Archaeology of Fruits & Vegetables – Yellow Onion

Yellow onions are one of the most frequented kind of onions used for cooking. They are commonly found in grocery stores, supermarkets, and farm markets.

What is a Yellow Onion?

A yellow onion has a yellow or brownish colored skin and flesh. Along with the red onion it is one of the stronger flavored onions because of the high sulfur chemical content which becomes milder when it’s cooked.

yellow onions

Are Yellow Onions Good For You?

Yes, yellow onions along with red onions can provide the most benefits as compared to other onions. When consumed raw, they are high in antioxidants which help to prevent sickness and disease. Cooking onions can reduce the level of antioxidants contained.

When are Yellow Onions in Season?

Yellow onions can be planted in late spring to early summer in cooler growing seasons. They are then harvested in late summer to early fall.

In milder growing seasons, onions can be planted in winter and harvested in spring.

How Should Yellow Onions Be Stored?

Yellow onions should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry location after they’re harvested. This will help prolong the length of shelf life. Damp locations can cause onions to mold when they’re stored.  

How are Red, White, and Yellow Onions Different?

Red, white, and yellow onions are slightly different in appearance, flavor, and their nutrients. However, they are interchangeable when used for cooking.

If your recipe calls for a red onion for example, and you use a yellow one instead, the flavor and the appearance of the dish will be minutely different. And in fact, some will not even notice a difference.

What Plants Are Called Bulbs?

There are many plants that have bulbs including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and alliums. Onions are of the allium family and like the other bulbs can form new bulbs from the base of the original bulb underground.

Other FAQs about Onions Which You May be Interested in

Following are some other frequently asked questions about onions that you might be interested in. As always, feel free to leave a comment using the comments box below of further questions arise.

What Makes an Onion Different from Stem?

An onion is not a stem. This is true because an onion is actually a bulb. However, the bulb contains hollow leaves that are edible. They are leaves and not stems as they have a flat base that lacks nodes.

Is Onion a Root, Stem, or a Fruit?- Kitchen Garden Facts

The fact of the matter is that an onion is not any of these. It’s not a root, stem, or fruit because it doesn’t fit the classification of any of these three categories scientifically speaking.

Origin of Onions

It is believed that onions originated from Asia or the middle east long before farming and writing were a part of history. Wild onions were first consumed.

Then later onions were brought to America by early European settlers only to find that onion plants were already readily available.

Types of Onions

There are many varieties and types of onions available today. Some of the types of onions are:

red onion
white onion
yellow onion
Vidalia onion
Maui onion
Spanish onion
Torpedo onion
Egyptian onion
Walla Walla onion
Bermuda onion
Cipollini onion
green onions

Different Types of Modified Stems

There are four main kinds of modified stems. They are as follows:


A bulb is a somewhat round in shape underground storage unit in plants. Onions have a bulb.


A rhizome is a shoot that continuously grows underground and puts out lateral shoots at intervals that typically rise above the ground and form an above ground portion of a plant.


A tuber is a very thick underground portion of a stem that serve as a reserve to produce new plants. The potato is a tuber.


A corm is an underground storage portion of a plant. Crocuses have a corm.

What You Should Know About Onions

There are many things you should know about onions including how to grow healthy onions, how to cut them without crying, how to store them for longer shelf life, and how to use them in the kitchen. Onions are one of the most versatile vegetables and can add rich flavor to many dishes whether used raw or cooked.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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