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Vivipary or Why My Tomatoes Are Mutating?

Sometimes a seed will start developing and germinate while they are still inside their parent, the fruit. The seed first breaks through the seed coat and then out of the fruit wall while still attached to the parent plant. This condition is known as vivipary, and it gives the affected fruit a creepy and alien look.

Vivipary

Vivipary in tomato. Photo credit: Kathy Clark/Shutterstock.com

Vivipary is a Latin word that means “live birth”, but what actually happens in vivipary is “premature birth”. The seed starts germinating before it has matured and has left the parent body. This phenomenon occurs frequently on ears of corn, tomatoes, peppers, pears, citrus fruits, and plants that grow in mangrove environments.

Fruits contain a hormone that prevents seeds from germinating. Once the fruit dies or the seeds are removed, the seeds are no longer exposed to these chemicals and can germinate freely. These hormones are necessary to allow the fruit to ripen and fall to the ground where conditions are more favorable for the young plant to survive. But sometimes that hormone runs out, and the seed starts germinating. You might have seen it in your tomatoes that are sitting around on the counter for far too long. This can also happen when the environment is warm and wet tricking the seeds into believing that they are in moist soil.

Vivipary often appears like worm infestation, which is bad if you want to sell your fruits. Otherwise it is perfectly harmless and doesn’t really affect the quality of the fruit.

Vivipary

Vivipary in strawberry. Photo credit: www.researchgate.net

Vivipary

Vivipary in Nypa fruticans or mangrove palm. Photo credit: Scott Zona/Flickr

Vivipary

Vivipary in tomato. Photo credit: Reddit.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in tomato. Photo credit: Reddit.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in tomato. Photo credit: Reddit.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in guava. Photo credit: arun sambhu mishra / Shutterstock.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in an apple. Photo credit: Sarah2/Shutterstock.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in butternut squash. Photo credit: Reddit.com

Vivipary

Vivipary in mango. Photo credit: Reddit.com

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