Follicle (fruit)

A milkweed follicle releasing its seeds.

In botany, a follicle is a dry unilocular fruit formed from one carpel, containing two or more seeds.[1] It is usually defined as dehiscing by a suture in order to release seeds,[2] for example in Consolida (some of the larkspurs), peony and milkweed (Asclepias).

Some difficult cases exist however, so that the term indehiscent follicle is sometimes used, for example with the genus Filipendula, which has indehiscent fruits that could be considered intermediate between a (dehiscent) follicle and an (indehiscent) achene.[3]

An aggregate fruit that consists of follicles may be called a follicetum. Examples include hellebore, aconite, Delphinium, Aquilegia or the family Crassulaceae, where several follicles occur in a whorl on a shortened receptacle, or Magnolia, which has many follicles arranged in a spiral on an elongated receptacle.[2]

The follicles of some species dehisce by the ventral suture (as in Banksia),[4] or by the dorsal suture (as in Magnolia).[5]


  1. ^ Hickey, M.; King, C. (2001). The Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms. Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ a b Rendle, Alfred Barton (1911). "Fruit" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 257.
  3. ^ "Flora of China online".
  4. ^ Renshaw, A.; Burgin, S. (2008). "Enantiomorphy in Banksia (Proteaceae): flowers and fruits". Australian Journal of Botany. 56 (4): 342–346. doi:10.1071/BT07073.
  5. ^ Kapil, R. N. and N. N. Bhandari (1964) Morphology and embryology of Magnolia Archived 2013-05-01 at the Wayback Machine. Proc. nat. Inst. Sci. India 30, 245-262.

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Media files used on this page

Banksia integrifolia and marginata cones.jpg
Author/Creator: Melburnian, Licence: CC BY 3.0
"Cones":Banksia integrifolia (left) fallen on foreshore, Banksia marginata (right) from a cultivated plant, both from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia
Emoji u1f33f.svg
Author/Creator: Google, Licence: Apache License 2.0
A colored Emoji from Noto project, released under Apache license

Unicode name: Herb

Annotations: Herb, Leaf, Nature, Plant
Stenocarpus sinuatus, vrugte, Manie van der Schijff BT.jpg
Author/Creator: JMK, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Green fruit of a Firewheel tree at the Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden, Pretoria, South Africa. When ripe they are dark brown and woody, some 75 mm long, and filled with brown, papery seeds.
Follicles of Helleborus foetidus.JPG
Follicles (a type of fruit) of Helleborus foetidus in the wild, Castelltallat, Catalonia
Author/Creator: No machine-readable author provided. Mdf assumed (based on copyright claims)., Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed), gone to seed -- Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada -- 2006 October