How To Differentiate Between a Seed and a Nut

What Is The Difference Between A Nut And A Seed

Have you ever been confused when it comes to differentiating a seed and nut? Mixing up the difference between a seed and a nut is quite common. This is why this guide will give a clear explanation between seeds and nuts with some good examples. 

Let us begin by defining a seed and a nut.

Definition of a Seed

According to botany, a seed is a product of a fertilized ovule from a gymnosperm and angiosperm plants. It consists of three parts:

  • An embryo
  • An endosperm – food storage for the embryo
  • Seed coat – a covering shield 

Examples of seeds are rice, beans, wheat, peanuts, barley, etc. 

Definition of a Nut

Botany defines a nut as a type of hard seed that is indehiscent (does not split open when matured). They consist of seed and fruit (i.e. nuts are a type of fruit). The examples of true nuts are hazelnut, chestnut, acorn, etc. 

What Is The Difference Between a Nut and a Seed

 Below are some of the differences between a seed and a nut: 

  • The puzzling and interesting thing is that a nut is a seed, but a seed can’t be a nut.
  • The dry hard shell fruit of nuts does not split open when mature. But a seed normally opens and break out from their shell when matured. 
  • Nuts are not attached to the ovary, but seeds attach themselves to the ovary walls.
  • You can remove plant seeds from its fruits, for instance removing the seeds inside a pawpaw fruit. As for nuts, the part inside the outer shell is composed of both the seeds and fruits, and cannot be removed.
  • Nuts contain vitamins, proteins, minerals, and fats, while seeds contain protein, vitamin B, dietary fibers, minerals, and fats. 

Misconceptions about Nuts and Seeds

  • Most foods that we call nuts, in reality, are not. Surprising right? Examples of such are cashew nut, walnut, pecans, macadamias nut, pistachios, almonds, coconut are drupes. Brazil nuts and pine nuts are never nuts but seeds.
  • Another misconception is that peanuts and groundnuts are nuts, but they are actually classified as legumes. 

Take a look at this short video about nuts and seeds.

Misconceptions about Nuts and Seeds


I’m sure you will agree that you have been assuming the difference between seeds and nuts wrongly. And I hope this guide has helped you clarify them? 

I would like to outline a few of the things we have discussed above:

  • Botany defines nuts as hard seeds that do not split open when mature. But seeds do break open when mature. 
  • Most food we call nuts is usually not.
  • Nuts are seeds, but seeds can never be a nut.
  • Nuts are usually one-seeded fruit.
  • Peanuts and groundnut are legumes and never a nut.

I hope you found this article helpful? If you still have other questions, please comment below.