Would you eat a strawberry that looked like this? Reddit user Fusionfallinfo, who posted the above photo to the Internet forum, downright refused. “Me or my coworker wouldn’t eat it for 5 bucks,” the user wrote in the comments section.
But everyone can relax—in all likelihood, this franken-strawberry isn’t the freakish result of a toxic waste spill, a la Blinky from The Simpsons.
"It looks like fasciation," explained Barbara A. Ambrose, the associate curator of plant genomics at the New York Botanical Garden, in an email. "The stem cells of the plants (meristems) that produce plant organs usually make organs in a predictable and organized pattern, but sometimes that tight control is lost and you get extra organs formed."
Why does fasciation occur? It could be due to a hormonal imbalance in the strawberry, or a genetic mutation. It might even be the result of exposure to frost or a bacterial or fungal infection.
But don’t worry: The resulting fruit, sometimes called “cockscomb strawberries,” are generally completely safe to eat. “They are still strawberries; they are just oddly shaped,” Ambrose assured us. “Fasciation is just a developmental stutter.” That said, online strawberry resource Strawberry Plants .org recommends cutting off the affected parts before chowing down.
"[Fasciation] does not happen often, but it does occur," Ambrose wrote. For proof, look no further than this Pinterest board. There are a lot of funky-shaped vegetables out there.
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