Don’t worry, this tomato isn’t morphing into a monster! Those squiggly green shoots might look freaky, but they’re just sprouts growing from the tomato’s own seeds. The fruit is undergoing a weird—yet natural—process.

Many plants produce fruits that contain seeds from which new plants can grow. While still inside their fruit, seeds produce a hormone—a chemical messenger inside an organism—called abscisic acid, which prevents them from sprouting. This state is called dormancy. Once the seeds are released from the fruit, levels of the hormone drop. This signals to the seed that if the environmental conditions are right, it’s time to germinate, or sprout.

Normally, seeds germinate when they are in moist soil, which provides water and nutrients needed to grow. But seeds of some plants, including tomatoes, peppers, and grapefruits, can get confused while still inside their parent fruit, explains botanist Kanchi Gandhi. He studies plants at Harvard University in Massachusetts. If fruits spend a long time in transport or are left on a counter for too long, the abscisic acid inside their seeds can run out. The seeds then mistake the surrounding flesh of the fruit for damp soil. Then the seeds begin to sprout inside the fruit—a process called vivipary.

Cutting into a fruit that’s filled with growing seeds can be a little bit shocking for some people. But even though vivipary might look strange, the fruits are still perfectly safe to eat—tiny seedlings and all. “I compare the little growing plants to sprouts, which many people eat,” says Gandhi.