Multiple fruits are fruits that are formed from a cluster of flowers (called an inflorescence). Each flower in the inflorescence produces a fruit, but these mature into a single mass. Examples are the fig, pineapple, mulberry, osage-orange, and breadfruit.
In the photograph on the left, stages of flowering and fruit development in the noni or Indian mulberry (Morinda citrifolia) can be observed on a single branch. First an inflorescence of white flowers called a head is produced. After fertilization, each flower develops into a drupe, and as the drupes expand, they become connate (merge) into a multiple fleshy fruit called a syncarp. There are also many dry multiple fruits.
Other examples of multiple fruits:
- Platanus, multiple achenes from multiple flowers, in a single fruit structure
- Mulberry, multiple flowers form one fruit
- Common Fig, multiple flowers form one fruit (inside the fruit)
Similar structures that are not multiple fruits are formed from single flowers that have more than one pistil, and these are called aggregate fruits, e.g.:
- Strawberry, aggregate of achenes on a fleshy receptacle
- Tuliptree, aggregate of samaras.
- Sweet gum, aggregate of capsules.
- Magnolia, aggregate of follicles.
- Schlegel. Encyclopedic Dictionary. p. 282.