The term fruit has many different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and the surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds. In cuisine, when discussing fruit as food, the term usually refers to those plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. However, a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are the fruit of that plant species. No single terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits. The cuisine terminology for fruits is inexact and will remain so. The term false fruit (pseudocarp, accessory fruit) is sometimes applied to a fruit like the fig (a multiple-accessory fruit; see below) or to a plant structure that resembles a fruit but is not derived from a flower or flowers. Some gymnosperms, such as yew, have fleshy arils that resemble fruits and some junipers have berry-like, fleshy cones. The term "fruit" has also been inaccurately applied to the seed-containing female cones of many conifers.
With most fruits pollination is a vital part of fruit culture, and the lack of knowledge of pollinators and pollenizers can contribute to poor crops or poor quality crops. In a few species, the fruit may develop in the absence of pollination/fertilization, a process known as parthenocarpy. Such fruits are seedless. A plant that does not produce fruit is known as acarpous, meaning "without fruit".