Technically seeds and nuts are quite different, but it's not always that simple...

What is a seed?

A seed is an embryonic plant. The plant embryo contains a tiny leaf, root and stem. Within the seed, you’ll find the endosperm, a nutrient-rich food source for the emerging seed and a protective casing. Broad beans are seeds, crack one open and you will see these tiny leaves and the emerging root.

What is a nut?

A true nut is a fruit with a hard shell containing an edible kernel. The confusion arises with what we call a nut. In his book The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson writes, “Nuts are impossible to define in a manner which would be compatible with popular usage yet acceptable to botanists.”

The trouble arises as not all nuts are true nuts. Hazelnuts, acorns and chestnuts with their hard outer casings, are all true nuts. Brazil nuts, almonds and cashew nuts are all seeds of fruits. Peanuts are legumes, botanically closer to the pea than the hazelnut


David HamiltonForager, photographer and author