Definition - What does Aril mean?

In botany, the aril refers to the hairy and fleshy outgrowth of a fertilized ovule or seed. Derived from the hilum or funiculus, the aril can only become conspicuous after fertilization. In nutmeg, for example, the aril is characterized by a brightly-colored mace. In water lilies, arils tend to display a sponge-like texture that help the plants remain afloat.

MaximumYield explains Aril

In some plants, arils have been shown to produce a fruit-like structure which is also known as a false fruit. These arils are more commonly found in Angiosperm plants. For example, ackee, lychee and longan fruits all produce edible arils that are highly sought-after for human consumption.

Edible arils are also found in conifers such as kahikatea and lleuque, as well as yews. In fact, aril sprout as small green bands in yews and these gradually take on a brownish-reddish hue as the plant grows. At maturity, these arils display a bright scarlet color as well as a fleshy texture. Contrary to their edible counterparts, yew-borne arils are poisonous to both human and animal consumption.

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