The INSIDER Summary:
• A Redditor posted a picture of a strawberry sprouting on the plant.
• The picture disturbs some people due to a phenomenon called “trypophobia” — a fear of clusters of holes.
If a picture of a strawberry sprouting makes you cringe — you’re not alone. A scientific phenomenon called trypophobia explains why seeing clusters of holes might disturb you and make your skin crawl.
On January 10, Redditor AmoosingCows posted a photo of a strawberry still on the vine that was growing tiny green leaves from the seeds on its outer skin.
One of the top comment reply threads on the post discusses why this picture is upsetting, and attributes the “disturbing” nature of it to trypophobia. There’s even a whole community dedicated to the fear of holes on Reddit — /r/trypophobia.
“Up to 15% of people (18% of females and 11% of males) become viscerally upset after looking at images of clustered holes or bumps, according to research on the condition colloquially known as trypophobia,” Business Insider reported in 2015. “These clusters of holes are common in nature, for example: honeycombs or clusters of soap bubbles.”
Though the strawberry images don’t show true holes (it’s more about holes that are filled unexpectedly with leaves), the effect can be the same.
The sprouting of seeds on fruits as seen in the strawberry photo is a mutation called “vivipary.”
“Vivipary occurs frequently in some plants, but only intermittently in others, like the strawberry,” an informative article on StrawberryPlants.org explains. “Viviparous plants produce seeds that germinate immediately while still attached to the plant. So, the achenes (commonly called strawberry seeds) are actually sprouting/germinating right on the strawberry.”
This isn’t the first time Redditors have been creeped out of a picture of a strawberry undergoing vivipary. Here’s another image of a sprouted berry posted by Redditor Proteon in May 2016:
The comment section on that post was also filled with Redditors discussing trypophobia and the unsettling nature of a sprouting strawberry.
For more information on trypophobia, read Business Insider’s full report on its scientific roots and possible causes.
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