What does Valve mean?

In the world of botany, a valve refers to a portion of a fruit’s pericarp. Depending on the fruit, the pericarp may include edible tissues, or it may be largely inedible (or not often eaten, as is the case with pods from most beans, such as black beans and pinto beans). As the fruit matures, the pericarp splits along defined lines. Each portion that splits away from the other is called a valve.

More Info On Valve

Plants have developed many ingenious ways of ensuring their seeds are distributed when mature. For instance, berries, like blackberries and raspberries, contain small seeds within each nodule of the fruit. When animals eat the berries, they also consume the seeds, which are spread when the seeds pass through the digestive tract of the animal that consumed them.

Other plants have developed different ways of ensuring seed dispersal after fruit maturation. They have developed fruit forms and structures that ensure the exterior of the fruit splits open after maturing, allowing the seeds to fall out. In this instance, each portion of the split pericarp is called a valve.

Think of beans. They grow on the plant in pods. As the pods mature, they have two defined portions, usually separated by a central groove that contains a “string”. As the fruit matures, it begins to dry. Once fully dry, the pod separates into two valves, and the beans (seeds) are then free to fall out where they will either germinate on the ground, or be consumed by animals and then spread to other areas through waste dispersal.

The many bean varieties we enjoy today are just some examples of valves in the world of botany. There are many others, including orchids (vanilla beans), many types of nuts, and even some legumes.

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