Fruit Trees in Agroforestry Systems: Complementing Globally Traded Commodities with Local Nutritional Benefits

All trees are fruit trees, botanically speaking, except for the ‘naked-seed’ Gymnosperms such as conifers-- even though the cones in which edible pine seeds grow are called ‘pine-apples’ (not to be confused with the subsequent use of the same word as a name for Ananas comosus). Fruits in Angiosperm (‘enclosed seed’) plants develop from the ovary in which one or more seeds develop and serve to protect the seed from consumers before it is ready to be dispersed, attract dispersal agents when it is ripe and stimulate that at least some viable seeds reach a location where they have a chance to grow -- surrounded by some readily available nutrient sources. Fruits exist in a wide range of forms across all Angiosperm plant families, with the larger ones logically restricted to trees, shrubs, lianas and other climbers. Trees are not a taxonomic entity but a life form present in more than half the plant families. ‘Fruit trees’ are thus a rather fuzzy category subject to certain functional and ecological selection forces, rather than having a common origin and shared properties.

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    van Noordwijk M, Hendre P, Kindt R, McMullin S, Muchugi A, Tchoundjeu Z, Tsobeng A, Jamnadass R