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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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noun, plural:

(1) The edible (part of a) plant (e.g. leaves, roots, flowers) but not including the fruit or seed

(2) Any plant (as in vegetable kingdom)


The term vegetable pertains specifically to plant parts that are edible such as leaves, roots, stems, flowers, etc. Plant parts such as edible fruits and seeds are not considered as vegetables. Rather, they are referred to as their name implies. Nevertheless, there are certain instances when fruits are referred to as vegetable, such as tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, eggplants, bitter gourds, etc. These edible plant parts contain seeds and are therefore considered as fruits. Examples of vegetables are lettuce (leaves and stems), beetroot (tubers), cabbage (leaves), carrot (tubers), and parsnip (tubers).

The term is also used to refer to any plant in contrast to other living things that are non-plants. Thus, it is not uncommon to find terms such as vegetable kingdom (i.e. plant kingdom) and vegetable matter (i.e. plant matter). Previously, the vegetable kingdom that includes all plants were classified by botanists into the following subdivisions: Phaenogamia (which includes the dicots or exogens and the monocots or endogens) and Cryptogamia (which includes the acrogens, thallogens).

Word origin: Latin vegetabilis (able to live and grow)

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