If evolving to bear good tasting fruit meant being able to spread seeds through animals and birds, why did some plants develop bad tasting fruit like chili and lemon?

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If evolving to bear good tasting fruit meant being able to spread seeds through animals and birds, why did some plants develop bad tasting fruit like chili and lemon?

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Not all fruit is designed to be eaten and the seeds pooped out. Some fruit actually evolved to make sure this didn’t happen with bitter or offensive tasting fruit. Some fruit like chili’s are only spicy to mammals, birds don’t have the receptor that capsaicin effects for example. By not being eaten the seeds won’t be digested if they’re not hardy enough to pass through the digestive tract.

Chili peppers and other spicy plants aren’t spicy to birds. Birds lack the receptor that most mammals have that makes us sensitive to capsaicin, which is what makes many spicy foods “hot” to us. But not to birds – they don’t process the capsaicin. So pepper plants evolved to disperse their seeds father away than many fruit-bearing plants. Birds eat the peppers and mammals generally don’t. Birds tend to travel greater distances than mammals. So seeds dropped by birds are generally more widely dispersed than seeds dropped by mammals, allowing spicy plants to spread around more easily.

And lemons are darn good. Animals like them.

Chilis and lemons taste bad? My taste buds must have missed that memo.

Bad tasting to whom? Seems to me most people like chili and lemons, why else would we grow so many?

There are two factors at play here. One, sometimes plants evolve to attract specific animals and deter others. Birds cannot taste the heat of chili peppers, but mammals can.

Two: humans have spent hundreds if not thousands of years cultivating and selectively breeding those plants for specific traits that we humans like, and thus removing any natural selective pressures on them. In most cases they are virtually unrecognizable compared to their wild ancestors.

Lemons are a very sweet fruit, despite the sourness. Animals have different taste receptors. Some fruits, like chillies, have evolved to have capsaicin in order to stop ground-dwellers from eating them, whilst birds are unaffected and can eat the fruit and spread the seeds much further.