Categories of Fruit and Vegetables

As fruit and vegetables come in wonderful colours, varieties, shapes and sizes they are organised into different categories. This helps growers, producers and shoppers alike to determine their preferences. Here, in Ireland we are very lucky to have fresh, home grown fruit and vegetables available to us all year long.

Take a look at our short video and learn about the different categories of fruit and vegetables.

Ever wonder why a fruit is a fruit or the age old question, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Look out for our fun fact below to find out.

What are fruits? 

Fruits are differ from vegetables because fruits come from the flowers of a tree or plant. When you cut a fruit open, you will find seeds inside. Fruits can be eaten fresh or from cans. Some fruits can be frozen. Fruits help to build healthy blood cells. Vitamin C, an important vitamin that helps a body to heal from cuts and wounds, also helping us to grow healthy and strong. Vitamin C comes from many of the fruits we eat. Another important mineral in fruits is potassium. Potassium helps your heart to stay healthy and strong. Fruits come in different shapes and sizes and it is important to eat the skin of fruits like apples and pears to ensure we get lots of fibre in our diet.


What are vegetables?

Vegetables come in many types: seeds, roots, tubers, stems and leaves. Carrots and potatoes are vegetables that grow underneath the ground as part of the roots of the plant. Vegetables grow out of the ground, and can be found in a garden or on large farms. After harvest, some vegetables go to packaging plants where companies cook them and put them into cans, such as sweetcorn. Some companies freeze them to make them available in the supermarket and frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as the fresh versions. Frozen vegetables are particularly convenient as they keep longer when we cannot get to the shops as often. Vegetables give the body many vitamins, including vitamin A and folic acid. These help to keep the organs in your body healthy and working well.

Vegetable Classification

Vegetables are classified according to which part of the plant is eaten. Some vegetables fit into more than one category when several different parts of the plant are edible, e.g. both the roots and leaves of beetroot can be eaten.


Classification Information Example


Usually grow just below the surface of the ground and produce a fleshy, leafy shoot above ground. Bulbs usually consist of layers, or clustered segments. fennel, garlic, leek, onion, shallot, spring onion


The edible flowers of certain vegetables. cauliflower, broccoli, courgette 
Fruits Vegetable fruits are fleshy and contain seeds. bitter melon, chilli, courgette, cucumber, aubergine, fuzzy melon, pumpkin, tomato
Fungi When referring to vegetables, fungi are commonly known as mushrooms button white, Swiss brown, cup (opened not flat), oyster, Portobello (brown flat or cup), truffle - black and white
Leaves The edible leaves of plants. Brussels sprout, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, watercress, 
Roots Usually a long or round-shaped taproot. beetroot, carrot, celery root, parsnip, radish, swede, turnip
Seeds (Legumes) apart from sweet corn, seeds grow in pods which are sometimes eaten along with the seed. bean (green, French, butter, snake), broad bean, pea, sweet corn
Stems The edible stalks of plants when the stalk is the main part of the vegetable. asparagus, celery
Tubers Vegetables which grow underground on the root of a plant. earth gem, kumara, potato



Fun Fact: Are tomatoes a fruit or vegetable?


Tips for including different categories of Fruit and Vegetables into your child's diet: 

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy. Keep some vegetables such as peas, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and cucumber in the fridge to grab for a quick snack.
  • Add blueberries, bananas and other fresh or dried fruits to hot or cold cereals.
  • Due to Covid-19, supermarkets are recommending that one person per household goes in-store to do the food shop, it is important however to empower your children by asking them what fruit and vegetables they would like you to buy during your shopping trip.
  • Chop up any mixture of vegetables and add to a soup or a stew. All the flavours combined will make it extra yummy. 
  • Bulbs such as onions or garlic will add great taste to most family meals. 
  • Try fruit and vegetables using different textures [grated, stewed, sliced etc.]. We all have our favourites. It may also be a fun way to experiment eating new fruit and vegetables.
  • Check out Bord Bia’s Best in Season calendar to find out what Irish crops are in season.