What is in a name ?


Parthenocarpia is a scientific word derived from classical Greek – Parthenos (virgin)  + Karpos (fruit). It refers to fruit that can grow and mature without any viable seeds inside.

Fertilization triggers the formation of an embryo (inside the seed).  In plants this releases hormones which are responsible for the production of the associated fruit.  But not all the time!  Sometimes fruit is made without the eggs being fertilized.

BTW it also occurs in some animals – it is called parthenogenesis.


Natural occurrence


Some plants evolved a natural form we call genuine parthenocarpia.  This occurs in pineapples, grapes, bananas, pears, figs and citrus.  They typically will have none or only rudimentary seeds.  Completely seedless grapes are a coincidental product –  a whim of nature.

Plant Specialists can help you grow seedless grapes in your home garden or rooftop ! Ask our Design Team for assistance in planning and set up.

The common banana variety we eat (Cavendish) is parthenogenic.


A species banana will have tons of seeds!


Naturally occurring seedless grape


External stimuli


Sometimes an external stimuli (temperature and humidity) will release the hormone and spontaneous parthenocarpy begins.  In apples or pears it can also be caused by the mechanical stimulation of the ovary, or if the ovary is damaged from frost.

Seedless pear with empty carpels !


Apart from some seedless fruit, there are some plants that produce stunted, very soft seeds.  They are there but are usually not felt at all when eating. This is not the same, and of course has a totally different name – stenospermocarpia. LORD!


Plant Auxins


Virginity can also be artificially induced by treating the flowers with auxins (natural plant hormones). This is how growers make seedless eggplant, cucumbers, watermelon and tomatoes. The list grows daily.


Common to find now – Virgin seedless watermelon !


Seedless tomato – the white “seeds” you see are actually empty carpels.



           Need help growing seedless tomatoes ? – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

Our Garden care Team can treat the flowers with a natural plant auxin.

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !






Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK