Nut (fruit)

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Chestnuts are both botanical and culinary nuts. Chestnut.jpg
Chestnuts are both botanical and culinary nuts.
Some common "culinary nuts": hazelnuts, which are also botanical nuts; Brazil nuts, which are not botanical nuts, but rather the seeds of a capsule; and walnuts, pecans, and almonds (which are not botanical nuts, but rather the seeds of drupes) Common-nuts.png
Some common "culinary nuts": hazelnuts, which are also botanical nuts; Brazil nuts, which are not botanical nuts, but rather the seeds of a capsule; and walnuts, pecans, and almonds (which are not botanical nuts, but rather the seeds of drupes)

A nut is a fruit composed of an inedible hard shell and a seed, which is generally edible. In general usage and in a culinary sense, a wide variety of dried seeds are called nuts, but in a botanical context "nut" implies that the shell does not open to release the seed (indehiscent). The translation of "nut" in certain languages frequently requires paraphrases, as the word is ambiguous.


Nuts being sold in a market Nuts market.jpg
Nuts being sold in a market

Most seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from the shell, unlike nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns, which have hard shell walls and originate from a compound ovary. The general and original usage of the term is less restrictive, and many nuts (in the culinary sense), such as almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts, [1] are not nuts in a botanical sense. Common usage of the term often refers to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut. [2] Nuts are an energy-dense and nutrient-rich food source. [3]

Botanical definition

A nut in botany is a simple dry berry in which the ovary wall becomes increasingly hard as it matures, and where the seed remains unattached or free within the ovary wall. Most nuts come from the pistils with inferior ovaries (see flower) and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). True nuts are produced, for example, by some plant families of the order Fagales.

Order Fagales (not all species produce true nuts)

A small nut may be called a "nutlet" (or nucule, a term otherwise referring to the oogonium of stoneworts). In botany, the term "nutlet" specifically refers to a pyrena or pyrene, which is a seed covered by a stony layer, such as the kernel of a drupe. Walnuts and hickories (Juglandaceae) have fruits that are difficult to classify. They are considered to be nuts under some definitions but are also referred to as drupaceous nuts. "Tryma" is a specialized term for hickory fruits.

In common use, a "tree nut" is, as the name implies, any nut coming from a tree. This most often comes up regarding food allergies; a person may be allergic specifically to peanuts (which are not tree nuts but legumes), whereas others may be allergic to the wider range of nuts that grow on trees.

See also

Related Research Articles

Fruit Seed-bearing part of a flowering plant

In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

Drupe Fleshy fruit with hard inner layer (endocarp or stone) surrounding the seed

In botany, a drupe is an indehiscent fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a single shell of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside. These fruits usually develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries.

Cashew Species of flowering plant in the family Anacardiaceae

The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple pseudofruit. The tree can grow as high as 14 m (46 ft), but the dwarf cultivars, growing up to 6 m (20 ft), prove more profitable, with earlier maturity and greater yields.

Fruit tree Tree which bears fruit

A fruit tree is a tree which bears fruit that is consumed or used by humans and some animals — all trees that are flowering plants produce fruit, which are the ripened ovaries of flowers containing one or more seeds. In horticultural usage, the term "fruit tree" is limited to those that provide fruit for human food. Types of fruits are described and defined elsewhere, but would include "fruit" in a culinary sense, as well as some nut-bearing trees, such as walnuts.

<i>Juglans</i> Genus of trees

Walnut trees are any species of tree in the plant genus Juglans, the type genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are referred to as walnuts. All species are deciduous trees, 10–40 metres (33–131 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves 200–900 millimetres (7.9–35.4 in), with 5–25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts (Pterocarya), but not the hickories (Carya) in the same family.

Pecan Species of hickory native to northern Mexico

The pecan is a species of hickory native to northern Mexico and the southern United States in the region of the Mississippi River. The tree is cultivated for its seed in the southern United States, primarily in Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas, and in Mexico, which produces nearly half of the world total. The seed is an edible nut used as a snack and in various recipes, such as praline candy and pecan pie. The pecan, in various aspects, is included in state symbols of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Capsule (fruit)

In botany a capsule is a type of simple, dry, though rarely fleshy dehiscent fruit produced by many species of angiosperms.

Hickory Genus of trees

Hickory is a type of tree, comprising the genus Carya, which includes around 18 species. Five or six species are native to China, Indochina, and India (Assam), as many as twelve are native to the United States, four are found in Mexico, and two to four are from Canada. A number of hickory species are used for products like edible nuts or wood.

<i>Juglans nigra</i> Species of tree

Juglans nigra, the eastern American black walnut, is a species of deciduous tree in the walnut family, Juglandaceae, native to North America. It grows mostly in riparian zones, from southern Ontario, west to southeast South Dakota, south to Georgia, northern Florida and southwest to central Texas. Wild trees in the upper Ottawa Valley may be an isolated native population or may have derived from planted trees.

<i>Canarium ovatum</i> Species of flowering plant

Canarium ovatum, the pili or Java almond tree, is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Java almonds are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia. They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts and is believed to be indigenous to that country.

Berry (botany) Botanical fruit with fleshy pericarp, containing one or many seeds

In botany, a berry is a fleshy fruit without a stone (pit) produced from a single flower containing one ovary. Berries so defined include grapes, currants, and tomatoes, as well as cucumbers, eggplants (aubergines) and bananas, but exclude certain fruits that meet the culinary definition of berries, such as strawberries and raspberries. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire outer layer of the ovary wall ripens into a potentially edible "pericarp". Berries may be formed from one or more carpels from the same flower. The seeds are usually embedded in the fleshy interior of the ovary, but there are some non-fleshy exceptions, such as peppers, with air rather than pulp around their seeds.

Tree nut allergy

A tree nut allergy is a hypersensitivity to dietary substances from tree nuts and edible tree seeds causing an overreaction of the immune system which may lead to severe physical symptoms. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, shea nuts and walnuts.

Nut (food) Dry and edible seed, that usually has a high fat content

In cuisine, dry nuts are dry, edible fruits or seeds that usually, but not always, have a high fat content.

Fruit anatomy

Fruit anatomy is the plant anatomy of the internal structure of fruit.

Lists of foods Wikipedia list article

This is a categorically-organized list of foods. Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is produced either by Plants or Animals, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Canarium indicum is a mainly dioecious tree native in eastern Melanesia. It is usually found in rainforests, secondary forests, old garden areas, around villages and settlements. It is also used as a shade tree, as a windbreak and in agroforestry. Canarium is important in the world food system as it can be used as a food and timber source, in traditional medicine, intercropping and agroforestry.



  1. Alasalvar, Cesarettin; Shahidi, Fereidoon (17 December 2008). Tree Nuts: Composition, Phytochemicals, and Health Effects (Nutraceutical Science and Technology). CRC. p. 143. ISBN   978-0-8493-3735-2.
  2. Black, Michael H.; Halmer, Peter (2006). The encyclopedia of seeds: science, technology and uses . Wallingford, UK: CABI. p.  228. ISBN   978-0-85199-723-0.
  3. "Nuts". Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. 1 September 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2019.

Further reading