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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
What Is The Difference Between A Nu...
What Is The Difference Between A Nut And 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.


What makes a nut a nut and not a seed?

A nut is often defined as a fruit with a hard shell. The distinction between the two is relatively simple to make. Seeds typically have a liquid (rather than a hard) covering.

A nut seed is not a nut because it has a covering that's similar to that of the seed of an herbaceous plant called the dandelion. Dandelions have their seeds covered in fuzz like an insect's exoskeleton and are different from most nuts because they don't have hard shells and are, therefore, more difficult to remove from their husks

Nuts have seeds inside them, but not all seeds have nuts inside them. If you look carefully, you can see the tiny little indentations in the outer shell of the seed where it broke through the surface to become a nut and not some other type of fruit.

Is an almond a nut or a seed?

Almonds are categorized as nuts because their outer layer is made up of a hard shell that protects the seed-like inner core. They share this trait with other popular types of nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and cashews. In contrast to these other types of nuts with hard shells, almonds have a softer skin that does not need protection.

What nuts are poisonous?

Nuts are a part of many people’s diets. They are considered to be healthy choices and are high in nutrients. However, some nuts have high levels of cyanide which can cause cyanide poisoning.

Many people worry about the safety of their foods and make sure they don’t eat any nuts that have been exposed to pesticides or other chemicals.

Some nuts are poisonous, while others are not. The most common ones that are known to be toxic include the walnut, cashew nut, Brazil nut, and acorn.

Is nutmeg a nut?

Nutmeg is not a nut. It is a spice of the same size and shape as a walnut. The difference is that it has a round, wrinkled, brown-colored outside and a light-brown or yellow-colored inside.

Are poppy seeds a nut?

Some people think that poppy seeds are a nut, while others argue that they are not. This is because there is no consensus on the classification of seeds. The United States Department of Agriculture allows for poppy seeds to be classified as a fruit or vegetable.

In most countries, the United States included, all fruits and vegetables are considered nuts. The USDA classifies poppy seeds as a "seeded fruit".

As we all know, the term “nut” usually refers to any hard, round seed with an outer shell, but it can also refer to pine nuts and walnuts. However, there is one type of seed that does not fit into this category - poppy seeds.

Is hazelnut a nut?

Hazelnuts are often referred to as nuts, but they are actually drupes. This means that the fruit is a drupe that has an outer membrane and a pit. The pit is what we eat, so it's not technically a nut.

Is chickpea a nut?

A chickpea is a type of bean, not a nut. It is also known as garbanzo bean or ceci beans. The chickpea plant belongs to the family Fabaceae.

The chickpea plant belongs to the family Fabaceae. Chickpeas are one of the most common ingredients in curries, salads, soups and stews in many countries around the world including India, Greece, Spain and Morocco.