An achene (//; from Ancient Greek ἀ (a) 'privative', and χαίνειν (khaínein) 'to gape'), also sometimes called akene and occasionally achenium or achenocarp, is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants. Achenes are monocarpellate (formed from one carpel) and indehiscent (they do not open at maturity). Achenes contain a single seed that nearly fills the pericarp, but does not adhere to it. In many species, what is called the "seed" is an achene, a fruit containing the seed. The seed-like appearance is owed to the hardening of the fruit wall (pericarp), which encloses the solitary seed so closely as to seem like a seed coat.
A rose produces an aggregate of achene fruits that are encompassed within an expanded hypanthium (aka floral tube), which is a structure where basal portions of the calyx, the corolla, and the stamens unite with the receptacle to form a cup-shaped tube.
Some achenes have accessory hair-like structures that cause them to tumble in the wind in a manner similar to a tumbleweed. This type sometimes is called a tumble fruit or diaspore. An example is Anemone virginiana.
The fruit of the family Asteraceae is also so similar to an achene that it is often considered to be one, although it derives from a compound inferior ovary (with one locule). A special term for the Asteraceae fruit is cypsela (plural cypselae or cypselas). For example, the white-gray husks of a sunflower "seed" are the walls of the cypsela fruit.[clarification needed] Many cypselas (e.g. dandelion) have calyx tissue attached that functions in biological dispersal of the seed.
A microscopic view of a dandelion "clock" showing the receptacle and the cypselas.
Samaras of Acer buergerianum are achenes with large wing-like structures.
Coreopsis tinctoria showing 4 stages of inflorescence, with two reddish-brown flower heads containing cypselas
Coreopsis tinctoria flower head containing cypselas forming as florets finish blooming
- "achene". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 July 2018. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
- Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Harris, James G.; Harris, Melinda Woolf (2001). Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary (Second ed.). Spring Lake, Utah: Spring Lake Publishing. p. 131. ISBN 0-9640221-6-8. OCLC 45951032 – via Internet Archive Kahle/Austin Foundation.