from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Botany The wall of a ripened ovary; fruit wall.
- n. A membranous structure surrounding the cystocarp of red algae.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The outermost layer, or skin, of a ripe fruit or ovary.
- n. used figuratively
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The ripened ovary; the walls of the fruit. See Illusts. of capsule, drupe, and legume.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In flowering plants, the seed-vessel or ripened ovary.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the ripened and variously modified walls of a plant ovary
Popcorn pops because the pericarp is strong enough to hold in the steam created when the endosperm, which is 14.5 percent water, is heated — strong enough, that is, until the steam reaches 177 degrees C. and the pressure builds to 9.5 kilograms per square centimeter.
 It is possible that Theophrastus derived the word pericarp from
The Legacy of Greece Essays By: Gilbert Murray, W. R. Inge, J. Burnet, Sir T. L. Heath, D'arcy W. Thompson, Charles Singer, R. W. Livingston, A. Toynbee, A. E. Zimmern, Percy Gardner, Sir Reginald Blomfield
The edible part is called the pericarp, which is the developed tissue of the ovary that surrounds the seeds.
The fruits come in the form of a pericarp, which is the mature ovary wall which contains the seeds of the plant.
The next layer of the pericarp is the mesocarp (Figs. 333, 334, 335), the cells of which are larger and more regular in outline than the epicarp.
It is official in all Pharmacopoeias and the pericarp is the part employed.
Short in proportion to the Corolla tho wide or bulky; the Style is very long or longer than the stamens, simple, cilindrical, bowed or bent upwards, placed on the top of the germ, membranous shrivels and falls off when the pericarp has obtained it's full Size. the Stigma is three clefts very manute and pubescent. the pericarp is a capsule, triangular, oblong, obtuse, and trilocular with three longitudinal valves. the Seed So far as I could judge are noumerous not very manute and globilar.
If the pericarp fails too soon, the steam escapes and the pressure never builds to the point where the endosperm can properly explode.
A good strong pericarp, then, is the key to a satisfactory pop.
At that point, the pericarp fails suddenly, and the endosperm explodes.