edible nuts and seeds

Edible Nuts and Seeds

Edible Nuts and Seeds List & FAQs

ADDucation’s list of edible nuts and seeds makes it easy to find healthy and nutritious seeds and nuts to enjoy. Most people don’t know the difference between edible nuts and seeds so here goes. In botanical terms, all nuts are seeds. Furthermore many so-called nuts are NOT nuts, they’re fruit seeds of various types. In culinary terms most edible seeds which look like nuts are often called “culinary nuts” which isn’t very helpful for nut allergy sufferers.

Edible Nuts & Seeds FAQs

More Questions & Answers About Edible Nuts and Seeds

  • What is a Botanical Nut? What is a True Nut?
    In botanical terms, a true nut is a shelled pod containing an edible kernel. The seed is the part of a flowering plant which contains the plant embryo surrounded by a protective outer coat.
    [Start typing “botanical nut” into the ADDucation Filter to display a list of true botanical nuts]
  • What are Culinary Nuts?
    Any edible fruits or seeds referred to as “nuts” in a culinary context (ignoring botanical terms) are “culinary nuts”.
  • What Are Tree Nuts? Which Nuts Should Tree Nut Allergy Sufferers Avoid?
    Tree nuts are nuts which grow on trees. This includes drupes, which in botanical terms are NOT nuts. The term “tree nut” makes it easier for nut allergy sufferers to avoid tree nuts.
    [Type “tree nut” into the ADDucation Filter to display all tree nuts in the table]
  • What’s the Difference Between Angiosperms and Gymnosperms?
    • Angiosperms are flowering plants with seeds enclosed inside an ovary, which is usually a fruit.
    • Gymnosperms do not have fruits nor flowers. Gymnosperms have “naked seeds” (unenclosed seeds) on scales or leaves (e.g. pine cones).
  • Are Raw Nuts More Nutritious Than Roasted Nuts?
    Yes – but there’s  not a huge difference. Nuts lose some of their vitamins and minerals when roasted, especially in oil, so raw nuts are more nutritious than roasted nuts. Flaked and ground nuts have the same nutritional value as raw nuts, unless they have been blanched to remove the outer coating, in which case they have less fiber.
  • How Many Nuts in One Serving?
    One small handful is roughly one serving*.
  • Is this ADDucation List of Edible Nuts and Seeds Complete?
    No, like all our general knowledge lists it’s an ongoing work in progress. If you spot any errors or omissions please do add your comments so we can improve this list.
edible nuts and seeds
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*Important!* This list of edible nuts and seeds is published for information only and does NOT constitute medical advice. Always seek professional medical advice about nut allergies. Click the column headings with arrows to sort edible nuts and seeds. Click the + icon to show any hidden columns. Set your browser to full screen and zoom out to show as many columns as possible. Start typing in the Filter table box to find any edible nut or edible seed inside the table.

Nut / SeedSpecies / GenusFamilyCommon Family TermNut Tree or PlantAngiosperm/ GymnospermSeed TypeKey facts, culinary uses & trivia about edible nuts and seeds
(Oak nut)
QuercusFagaceaeBeech family.English Oak tree, Pedunculate Oak tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Acorns were a staple food in some earlier cultures. There are hundreds of oak species but the flavors are generally bland.
  • Culinary use: Acorns should be ripe (brown not green) and should not be eaten raw until the toxic bitter tannins have been leached out in water. Roasted chopped acorns can be used as an almond alternative. Acorns were used as a coffee substitute by the Confederates in the American civil war and the Germans in WWII.
  • Nutrition: Acorns are a good source of protein, B vitamins, and can help reduce blood glucose levels.
  • Native to: Europe and USA. Now widespread across China, Korea and Japan.
AlmondPrunus dulcisAmygdalusAlmond family.Almond tree, Sweet almond tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Raw almonds are sweet and taste delicious.
  • Health: Almonds should only be eaten in small quantities as they can be toxic in larger amounts. Almonds are difficult to digest, so they should be chewed thoroughly.
  • Culinary uses: Roasted Almonds are used in baked goods, cooked or dried and ground into a powder, or mixed with water to make Almond milk. Almonds can be pressed for oil which is commonly used as a food flavoring and in recipes.
  • Native to: Eastern Mediterranean to central Asia
  • Production: Almonds are the fourth most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts, Peanuts and Cashew nuts.
  • Since 200-100 BC Romans gave gifts of sugared almonds at weddings, births etc.
Araucaria nuts
(piñas, pinhas, piñones, pinhões)
Araucaria araucanaAraucariaceaeAraucaria family.Monkey Puzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine tree, pehuén tree.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Raw Araucaria nuts are delicious, soft like a cashew nut and similar to pine nuts.
  • Culinary uses: Araucaria nuts can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Native to: Chile and Argentina.
Atherton Oak nut
(Athertonia nut, Atherton almond Bush Almond, White Oak)
Athertonia diversifoliaProteaceaeProteaceae family.Atherton Oak tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Similar to a macadamia nut but milder, sweeter and woody.
  • Culinary uses: Thin flat nuts which can be eaten raw, blanched like almonds, or lightly dry roasted – they have a low oil content. Popular “bush tucker”.
  • Native to: Atherton Tablelands, near Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
  • American beech: Fagus grandifolia
  • European Beech: Fagus sylvatica
FagaceaeBeech family.Beech tree, Common Beech tree, European beech tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: American beechnuts are small with a sweet pleasant taste. European beechnuts are edible, have a bitter taste and not generally eaten.
  • Culinary uses: Beech nuts can be dried then ground into flour to make bread, cake etc. or be pressed for edible oil.
  • Native to: Europe, western Russia and the Crimea.
  • Various beechnut species are grown worldwide, primarily for wood.
Black walnut
(Greek Nut, Akhort)
Juglans nigraJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Black walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Black walnuts taste great raw, with a distinctive rich, sweet flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Widely used in baked goods and desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly.
  • Native to: Eastern North America.
Brazil nutBertholletia excelsaLecythidaceaeSapucaya family.Brazil nut tree.AngiospermCapsule, tree nut
  • Taste: Brazil nuts are highly nutritious with a mild flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Brazils can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked or pressed for oil which has a nutty flavor and can be used like olive oil. One of the most popular edible nuts and seeds.
  • Nutrition: High in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamin and low in sodium.
  • Native to: North and western South America.
(Maya nut, ramon)
Brosimum alicastrumMoraceaeFig and Mulberry family.Breadnut tree, Maya nut tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Breadnuts taste like coffee or chocolate when roasted and mashed potato if stewed.
  • Culinary uses: Breadnuts can be eaten raw or dried or cooked. Can be used in powder form in bread and hot drinks.
  • Nutrition: Breadnuts are high in fiber.
  • Native to: Central America and the Caribbean
  • Probably a staple food of the Mayans.
Bunya Bunya nut
Araucaria bidwilliiAraucariaceaeNative Cherry.Bunya pine tree.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Giant cones weighing up to 10kg (22lbs) are produced every 3-4 years each containing up to 100 nuts.
  • Taste: Bunya nuts are delicious with a texture similar to potato and chestnuts with a slight pine flavor.
    Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted or ground into a paste or flour and used to make pancakes, cakes, biscuits, hummus or added to casseroles etc. Popular “bush tucker”.
  • Nutrition: Bunya Bunya nuts are packed with calcium, carbohydrates, fiber, fat protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
  • Native to: Queensland, Australia. Historically an important food source for Indigenous Australians.
(White Walnut)
Juglans cinereaJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Butternut tree, White walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Butternuts taste sweet, oily and rich.
  • Culinary uses: Butternuts can be eaten raw, ground into flour or pressed for oil.
  • Native to: Eastern USA and southeast Canada.
Candle nut
(Kukui nuts, Buah Keras, Candleberry, Indian walnut, Kemiri)
Aleurites moluccanusEuphorbiaceaeSpurge family.Candlenut tree, Indian walnut tree, kemiri tree, varnish tree, nuez de la India tree, buah keras tree, kukui nut tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Very tasty but raw candle nuts are poisonous so they must be roasted. Even so don’t eat too many because the nuts contain cyanide.
  • Culinary uses:  Candlenuts are widely used used in Indonesian (Kemiri) and Malaysian (Buah Keras) cuisine and pressed for oil.
  • Nutrition: Oil rich. High in protein, calcium, iron and phosphorous.
  • Other uses: Candlenuts are used as candles because they have a hard seed coat and high oil content. Widely used in cosmetics.
  • Native to: Candlenut trees are widespread in tropical countries.
CashewAnacardium occidentaleAnacardiaceaeCashew family.Cashew tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Cashew nuts are mildly sweet, soft and creamy compared to most edible nuts.
  • Culinary uses: Cashew nuts are popular snacks and widely used in Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine and can be steamed, salted and roasted.
  • Nutrition: Cashews are high in fiber, rich in vitamin E and a good source of minerals, especially zinc and magnesium.
  • Health issues: Most “raw” cashew nuts have actually been steamed to remove urushiol, the chemical also found in poison ivy. Cashew nut allergy is less common than peanut or tree nut allergies.
  • Production: Cashew nuts are the third most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts and peanuts.
  • Native to: Brazil but now commercially produced in tropical countries on most continents.
(Chinquapin, Chinkapin)
CastaneaFagaceaeBeech family.Chestnut tree, Chinquapin tree, Chinkapin tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Sweet, earthy, softer texture than most nuts.
  • Culinary uses: European chestnuts can be eaten raw and are delicious. Chestnuts can be baked, boiled or roasted and is a popular stuffing ingredient. Roasted chestnuts are a popular snack and can be used as a coffee substitute. Chestnut paste is a popular ingredient in cakes and cookies and a flavoring in ice cream.
  • Nutrition: Chestnuts are gluten free, low in fat and protein compared to most nuts, with carbohydrate levels similar to rice and wheat. Chestnuts contain vitamin C.
  • Health issues: Some chestnut varieties contain high levels of tannic acid and should not be eaten raw. Chestnuts can cause flatulence.
  • Production: There are European, Chinese, Japanese and American chestnut varieties and chestnuts are grown commercially worldwide. Sugar can be extracted from chestnuts. Chestnuts rank sixth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Chia seeds
Salvia hispanicaLamiaceaeMint family / Deadnettle family.Chia plant.AngiospermNutlet, Seed
  • Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds, a whole-grain food important to the Mayans and Aztec civilizations – “Chia” means “strength” in Mayan.
  • Taste: Raw Chia seeds have a subtle mild nutty taste, similar to poppy seeds or alfalfa sprouts.
  • Culinary use: Chia seeds can be eaten whole, used as a thickener, added as a topping or extra ingredient to smoothies, cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread.
  • Nutrition: Chia seeds are gluten free, high in fiber, omega-3 fats, micro-nutrients and antioxidants, which help stop fats in the seeds going rancid.
  • Production: Chia seeds are non-GMOand commonly grown organically.
Chilean Hazel
(Avellano chileno)
Gevuina avellanaProteaceaeProtea family.Chilean hazel tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Culinary use: Chilean hazel seeds can be eaten raw, boiled or toasted.
  • Nutrition: Chilean hazel seeds are high in mono-unsaturated oils, rich in antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene.
  • Other uses: Chilean hazel oil is used as a sunscreen and cosmetics ingredient.
  • Native to: South America but grown worldwide.
Chilghoza Pine nutPinus gerardianaPinaceaePine family.Chilghoza Pine, Noosa / Neoza.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Chilghoza Pine nuts taste slightly resinous.
  • Native to: Northwestern Himalayas and east Asia where they are a popular staple local food source.
CoconutCocos nuciferaArecaceaePalm family.Coconut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Culinary use: Coconut oil, made from the seed, is healthy for cooking and can be turned into coconut butter, milk, margarine and flour. The white flesh, called coconut meat, is widely used fresh or dried in savory and sweet recipes.
  • Coconuts are the most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide.
English walnut
(Persian walnut)
Juglans regiaJuglandaceaeWalnut family.English walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: English walnuts are creamy white to light brown and taste delicious raw.
  • Culinary use: English walnuts can be used whole or ground and used in sweet and savory recipes including cakes and ice cream. Can be pressed for oil to use on salads or in recipes but must be used quickly or it will turn rancid.
  • Native to: Eastern Europe to north Asia, also naturalized in south England.
  • Trivia: Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
(Hazelnut, Cobnut)
Corylus maximaBetulaceaeHazel family.Filbert tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Filbert nuts are edible with a sweet flavor and closely related to the common Hazelnut.
  • Production: Filbert is a species of hazel native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Filberts are also grown commercially in Oregon, USA.
Linum usitatissimumLinaceaeFlax family.Flax plant.AngiospermCapsule, Seed
  • Taste: Golden and brown flaxseeds both taste nutty but don’t add flavor to foods. Golden flaxseeds taste smoother, brown flaxseeds have earthy undertones.
  • Culinary use: Most of the goodness is in the outer hull so soak in advance and use whole or grind in a coffee grinder or food processor as required. Flaxseeds can be stored for months but once ground the oil turns rancid quickly leaving a fishy aroma and unpleasant taste. Use as a binder in recipes, add to shakes or sprinkle onto oatmeal, yogurt, cereals etc.
  • Nutrition: Flaxseeds are high in fiber, omega-3 fats and lignans, with evidence to show they can reduce blood pressure, “bad” LDL cholesterol, risk of diabetes and cancer.
Gabon Nut
(African Walnut)
Coula edulisOlacaceaeSour Plum family.Gabon nut tree, African walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Mild flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Gabon nuts can be boiled, roasted and fermented. Used for flour and cooking oil.
  • Native to: Tropical western Africa.
Ginkgo nuts
(Gingko, Bai Guo)
Ginkgo bilobaGinkgoaceaeGinkgoaceae family.Ginkgo biloba tree, Maidenhair tree.GymnospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Raw Ginkgo nuts/seeds have a fishy flavor. Cooked Ginkgo seeds/nuts have a soft, sweet flavor similar to pine nuts with an oily texture. Baked Ginkgo seeds/nuts taste like a cross between sweet chestnuts and potatoes. Boiled Ginkgo nuts/seeds can be used in congee, porridge, soups etc. Edible Ginkgo oil can be extracted from Ginkgo seeds/nuts.
  • Health issues: There’s conflicting advice about the toxicity of eating raw Ginkgo seeds, be sure to inform yourself*.
  • Production: Native from eastern Asia to northern China. Considered living fossils because they have remained in their current form for many thousands of years.
(Cob Nuts, Filbert)
CorylusBetulaceaeBirch family.Common Hazel tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Key Facts: There are over a dozen species in the Corylus genus, all of which are edible and all basically Hazelnuts, including Filbert nuts and Cobnuts.
  • Taste: Sweet firm nut, mildly bitter dark skin, sweeter when roasted.
  • Culinary uses: Hazelnuts can be ground into flour, turned into butter or a spread, like Nutella, which is made from roasted hazelnuts ground to a paste. Popular chocolate accompaniment, e.g. Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
  • Nutrition: Hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats (oleic acid), high in calcium, magnesium and vitamins B and E.
  • Locality: Exactly what Hazel nuts are called in your locale is very localized and even varies generation to generation.
Heartseed walnutJuglans ailanthifolia cordiformisJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Heartseed walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Heartseed walnuts taste great raw with a mild flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Often used in desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly.
  • Native to: East Asia across to Japan.
  • Production: Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
(Mockernut, Pignut, Shagbark, Bitternut)
CaryaJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Hickory tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Hickory nuts taste buttery with a crunchy texture. Some varieties have a bitter-tasting outer.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw, dried or roasted as a snack. Crush to use as topping on cereals, ice cream etc.
  • Nutrition: Good source of manganese.
  • Production: Hickory can be found across north America, Mexico and Asia.
  • Notes: Hickory sub-species, including Pecans and Butternuts, are listed separately. Hickory is primarily used for wood burning and making tools.
Indian almond
(Tropical almond, Desi Badam, Bengal almond, Malabar almond, Myrobalan, Country almond, Almendro, Sea Almond)
Terminalia catappaCombretaceaeLeadwood tree family.Terminalia catappa tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Very similar to almonds.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw when ripe or cooked, use anywhere you would use almonds.
  • Nutrition: High in fiber, iron, phosphorous, potassium and thiamine, low in sodium.
  • Native: Tropical seashore in Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Italian stone pine nutPinus pineaPinaceaePine family.Italian stone pine, Umbrella pine, Parasol pine.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Italian stone pine nuts have a soft texture with a hint of resin.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw as a snack or cooked. Can be ground into pine nut flour or pine-nut meal to thicken soup, make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, ice cream, cakes etc.
  • Native to: Mediterranean region of southern Europe. Naturalized in north and south Africa, New South Wales, Australia.
Japanese walnutJuglans ailantifoliaJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Japanese walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Japanese walnuts taste good raw.
  • Culinary uses: Often used as an ingredient in desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly.
  • Native: From east Asia across to Japan.
  • Production: Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Johnstone River almond (Kuranda quandong, Ebony Heart) #LesserKnownNuts
Elaeocarpus bancroftiiElaeocarpaceaeKuranda quandong tree, ebony heart tree, grey nut tree, nut tree, nutwood tree, Johnstone River almond tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Johnstone River almonds have an excellent flavor, said to rival Macadamia nuts.
  • Culinary use: Can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Native to: Northeastern Queensland, Australia.
Karuka nuts
(Pandanus nut)
Pandanus julianettiiPandanaceaePandanaceae family.Karuka tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Sweet coconut taste or like walnuts.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw, roasted, sun-dried or smoked. Can be pressed for oil.
  • Nutrition: Highly nutritious, high in protein, fat and vitamin E.
  • Native to: Papua New Guinea.
Kola nut
Cola acuminataMalvaceaeMallow / Cotton family.Cola nut tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Culinary uses: Can be roasted, ground into a powder for use in drinks, or chewed. Used to flavor Coca Cola style drinks.
  • Taste: When chewed kola nuts have an initial bitter taste followed by a sweet aftertaste which persists to food eaten afterwards.
  • Kola nuts are rich in catechine-caffeine (colanine).
  • Native to: Tropical rain forests in Africa.
Korean pine nutPinus koraiensisPinaceaePine family.Korean Nut pine, Chinese pinenut.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Korean pine nuts have a hint of resin and a soft texture.
  • Culinary uses: Korean pine nuts can be eaten raw as a snack or cooked. Can be ground into pine nut flour or pine nut meal to make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, cakes, stews.
  • Native to: Eastern Asia, Korea, China and temperate rain forests of eastern Russia and central Japan.
Kurrajong nutBrachychiton populneusMalvaceaeMallow / Cotton family.Kurrajong nut tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Taste: a rich earthy flavor, originally popular with Aboriginal Australians.
  • Culinary uses: Kurrajong nuts can be eaten raw, roasted or ground into a powder and used in bread and baked goods. Roasted kurrajong nuts can be used as a coffee substitute.
  • Nutrition: Highly nutritious.
  • Native to: Mainland Australia.
Macadamia nut
(Queensland nut, Queen of nuts, Bauple nut, Bush nut, Hawaii nut, Maroochi nut)
Macadamia integrifoliaProteaceaeProtea family.Macadamia nut tree, Queensland nut tree, bauple nut tree, bush nut tree, Hawaii nut tree, maroochi nut tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Taste: Macadamia nuts are delicious with a sweet, delicate flavor and crunchy texture.
  • Culinary uses: Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, deep fried, ground into flour or pressed for oil, which can then be used like olive oil. Macademia nuts are great in curries and perfect for desserts including biscuits, cakes and ice cream.
  • Nutrition: High in oil, fiber and protein and a good source of minerals including iron, phosphorus, potassium and thiamine.
  • Native to: Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
Malabar chestnut
(French peanut, Guiana chestnut)
Pachira aquaticaMalvaceaeMallow / Cotton family.Malabar chestnut tree, French peanut tree, Guiana chestnut tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Culinary use: Malabar chestnuts are can be eaten raw and taste like peanuts, or fried or roasted and taste similar to other chestnuts.
  • Culinary uses: Roasted Malabar chestnuts can be ground into a powder to make cocoa-like hot drinks. Can also be ground into a flour to make bread.
  • Nutrition: Very high in fiber, high in protein and a good source of minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A and vitamin C.
  • Native to: Central and south America.
Manchurian walnut
(Chinese walnut)
Juglans cathayensisJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Manchurian walnut tree, Chinese walnut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Chinese walnuts have thick shells and small seeds.
  • Taste: Chinese walnuts taste good raw.
  • Culinary uses: Manchurian walnuts are used in sweetmeats and confectionery. Can be pressed for oil which turns rancid if not used quickly.
  • Native: From east Asia to China.
Mexican Pine nutPinus cembroidesPinaceaePine family.Mexican Pine, Pinyon Pine, Mexican pinyon, Mexican stone pine.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Mexican Pine nuts taste great raw and roasted with an oily taste.
  • Culinary uses: Mexican pine nuts can be ground into pine nut meal or pine nut flour to make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, cakes etc.
  • Nutrition: Highest in protein and lowest in starch of the piñons.
  • Native to: Southern north America and Mexico.
Mongongo nut
(Mongongo nut, Manketti tree)
Schinziophyton rautaneniiEuphorbiaceaeSpurge family.Mongongo nut tree, Manketti tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Taste: Mongongo nuts taste like cashew nuts or Brazil nuts or, when roasted longer, like vintage cheese!
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw, pounded and used as an ingredient or cooked. Roasted Mongongo nuts are rich in oil which is extracted and used locally for cooking.
  • Nutrition: Mongongo nuts are nutritious.
  • Native to: Tropical Africa.
NutmegMyristica fragransMyristicaceaeNutmeg family.Nutmeg tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Culinary uses: Nutmeg is one of the most versatile nuts. The edible seed, from the edible fruit, of the Nutmeg tree is a popular spice used to flavor meat, vegetables and drinks. The nutmeg seed is protected by a crimson colored edible “aril” which is dried to create Mace, a delicate spice used to flavor meat, fish, baked goods, vegetables and used in preserves and pickling.
Palm nut
  • African Oil Palm: Elaeis guineensis
  • American Oil Palm: Elaeis oleifera
ArecaceaePalm family.Palm tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Oil Palm tree species produce two types of oil:
    • Palm oil from the fruit.
    • Palm kernel oil from the kernels – palm nuts.
  • Culinary uses: Palm kernel oil is used to produce ice cream, margarine, candy and cooking oil. Palm nuts are boiled and pounded to produce palm nut butter, used to make soup and other dishes.
  • Native to: African oil palms are native to tropical west and central Africa. American oil palms are native to central and south America. Malaysia and Indonesia currently produce over 80% of all palm oil worldwide.
(Cream nut, Monkey pot, Sapucaia, Castanha-de-Sapucaia)
Lecythis pisonisLecythidaceaeBrazil nut family.Paradise tree, Cream nut tree, Monkey pot tree, Sapucaia tree, Castanha-de-Sapucaia tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Taste: Paradise nuts are similar in shape and size to Brazil nuts but sweeter with a soft, creamy texture.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw or pressed for oil which is pale yellow and smells and tastes similar to almond oil.
  • Nutrition: Paradise nuts are highly nutritious.
  • Native to: South America.
(Groundnut, Goober, (UK) Monkey nut)
Arachis hypogaeaFabaceae / LeguminosaePea, Bean, Legume family.Peanut plant (annual plant).AngiospermLegume
  • Peanuts grow in pods underground not on trees.
  • Taste: Raw Peanuts have a tasty nutty flavor.
  • Culinary use: Peanuts are a staple food in many tropical areas and valuable export. As food:
    • Raw peanuts are popular snacks.
    • Ground peanuts for Peanut butter.
    • Powdered Peanuts in cereals, bread, cakes.
    • Pressed Peanuts make Peanut oil which can be used just like Olive oil.
    • Roasted Peanuts can be eaten as a snack or used as a Coffee substitute.
  • Nutrition: High in fiber and protein and a good source of minerals including iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium and thiamine, very low in sodium.
  • Production: After Coconuts, peanuts are the most widely produced of edible nuts and seeds worldwide.
  • Native to: South America.
Peanut Tree nut
(Red Fruited Kurrajong, Koralba)
Sterculia quadrifidaMalvaceaeMallow / Cotton family.Peanut tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Taste: Peanut tree nuts are satin-black in color with a taste combining pine nuts and cashews.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw or roasted, good crushed as a dessert topping.
  • Native to: Australia.
PecanCarya illinoinensisJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Pecan tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Culinary uses:
    • Raw Pecans are delicious with a rich buttery flavor and popular in sweet desserts like Pecan pie, enjoyed in the USA and worldwide.
    • Cooked Pecans can be used to make bread, cakes, ice cream etc.
    • Milk to thicken soups and season hominy, corn cakes etc.
    • Pressed Pecans make an edible Pecan oil.
  • Nutrition: High in fiber and a good source of minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
  • Native to: Mid-southern states of the USA.
Pili nut
(Canarium nut, Galip nut, Kenari nut, Java almond, Nangai/Ngali, Pacific almond)
Canarium ovatumBurseraceaeFrankincense family.Pili tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Taste: Raw Pili nuts taste sweet, like roasted pumpkin seeds. Roasted Pili nuts taste similar to Pine nuts.
  • Culinary uses: Cooked Pili nuts are used in candy, chocolate, ice cream, chocolate and Chinese moon cakes. Can be pressed for oil.
  • Nutrition: High in calcium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium, rich in fats and protein.
  • Native to: Eastern Asia, grown commercially in the Philippines.
Pine nutPinus edulisPinaceaePine family.Two needle pinyon tree, Colorado pinyon tree, Pinyon nut tree, Rocky Mountain Piñon tree, Nut Pine tree, Pinyon Pine tree, Rocky Mountain Pinyon Pine tree, Singlelea tree.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Culinary uses:
    • Raw Pine nuts are delicious with a distinctive resinous flavor.
    • Ground Pine nuts for bread, pine nut butter, stews, cakes etc.
    • Pressed Pine nuts make pine nut oil (aka pine seed oil or cedar nut oil).
    • Roasted or toasted Pine nuts make healthy snacks and cooking ingredients.
  • Native to: South western states of the USA.
Piñon nutPinus monophyllaPinaceaePine family.Single Leaf Piñon, Single Leaf Pinyon, Stone Pine, Pine Pinyon.GymnospermNo fruit, naked seeds, tree nut
  • Taste: Piñon nuts have an oily almond-like flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw or cooked. Used in used in baked goods and sweetmeats.
  • Nutrition: Lowest in protein and fats and highest in starch of the piñons.
  • Native to: USA and northwest Mexico.
PistachioPistacia veraAnacardiaceaeCashew family.Pistachio nut tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • The pistachio tree one of the world’s oldest surviving tree species and is mentioned in the bible.
  • Taste: Raw Pistachios have a mild pleasant flavor
  • Culinary uses:
    • Raw pistachio nuts are popular snacks or added to salads.
    • Roast Pistachios are used in ice cream, butter, baklava, biscotti etc.
    • Pressed Pistachios make Pistachio nut oil but Pistachios are expensive so not commercially viable.
  • Native to: Western Asia.
Poppy seedPapaver somniferumPapaveraceaePoppy family.Opium Poppy annual plant.AngiospermPorose Capsule
  • Culinary uses:
    • Raw Poppy seeds have a nutty flavor and are commonly used as a flavoring in bread, cakes, fruit salads etc.
    • Crushed Poppy seeds are used as a filling in crepes, strudels, pastries etc.
    • Poppy seed oil has a tasty almond flavor. Used on salads and as a dipping oil.
  • Native from: Europe to Asia.
Pumpkin seeds
Cucurbita pepoCucurbitaceaeGourd family.Pumpkin annual climbing plant (Ozark melon plant, Texas gourd plant).AngiospermBerry / Pepo
  • Taste: Pumpkin seeds are mildly sweet with a nutty flavor and chewy texture.
  • Culinary uses:
    • Raw Pumpkin seeds (soak in water overnight to soften) taste great as a snack added to salads, sandwiches etc.
    • Roasted and baked pumpkin seeds are popular snacks. Tip! Boil the seeds (of any squashes) in salted water for 10 minutes to remove the membrane, fluff them up, and enhance the final flavor.
    • Pumpkin seeds can be ground into flour to make bread and mix with cereals.
    • Pumpkin seed oil with a pleasant nutty flavor used as a salad and cooking oil.
  • Nutrition: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of phosphorus, omega-6 fats, monounsaturated fats and phytosterols, which may lower blood cholesterol.
  • Native to: Pumpkins now grow worldwide but their origin is unclear, probably central America.
Red Bopple nut
(Beef nut, Ivory silky oak, Monkey nut, Red nut, Rose nut)
Hicksbeachia pinnatifoliaProteaceaeProtea family.Red Bopple nut tree.AngiospermBotanical nut, tree nut
  • Culinary uses: Red Bopple nuts are edible.
  • Native to: Subtropical rain forest in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia
Saba nut
(Guiana chestnut, Guyana Chestnut, Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Monguba / Mamorana (Brazil), Pumpo (Guatemala), Provision tree)
Pachira aquaticaMalvaceaeMallow / Cotton family.Saba nut tree.AngiospermLegume, tree nut
  • Taste: White nuts with a soft, smooth texture. Roasted saba nuts taste like chestnuts.
  • Culinary uses: Saba nuts can eaten raw, stir-fried, boiled or roasted. Rich in oil.
  • Native to: Originally from South America, now grows in central America, Africa and worldwide.
Sesame seedsSesamum indicumPedaliaceaePedalium family.Sesame plant.AngiospermCapsule
  • Taste: Raw sesame seeds can be eaten unhulled (with seed coat/natural) or hulled (with seed coat removed). Unhulled sesame seeds taste clean and nutty, hulled sesame seeds have a background bitterness which some prefer.
  • Culinary uses: Roasted sesame seeds can be turned into sesame seed butter or made into a paste for Tahini (Ardeh), fermented into Tempeh, sweetened to make Halva candy and confections. Popular as a topping on bread, cakes, biscuits. Ground Sesame seeds can be powdered and added to bread, vegetables etc. Edible sesame seed oil can be extracted from sesame seeds and is a healthy alternative to vegetable oils. One of the most widely used edible nuts and seeds.
  • Nutrition: Sesame seeds are the best dietary source of lignans, including sesamin which may be converted by gut bacteria into enterolactone and act like estrogen. This has been shown to lower blood cholesterol in postmenopausal women. Sesame seeds are anti-inflammatory which may be beneficial to  arthritis sufferers.
  • Native to: Sesame seeds are grown worldwide. India, China and Nigeria are the leading producers. Their origin is unclear, probably Africa.
Shagbark hickoryCarya ovataJuglandaceaeWalnut and hickory family.Shagbark hickory tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Shagbark hickory nuts were eaten raw by American Indians and are equally popular with squirrels today.
  • Culinary uses: Shagbark hickory nuts can be used as an alternative to Pecans (a hickory sub-species) in recipes.
  • Native to: Eastern north America. Unsuitable for commercial production.
Souari Nut
(Pequi, Pekea, Butternut of Guiana)
Caryocar nuciferumCaryocaraceaeSouari Nut tree, Pekea tree, Butternut of Guiana, tree.AngiospermDrupe, tree nut
  • Souari nuts are large.
  • Taste: Souari nuts are soft with a rich and taste similar to almonds, only sweeter.
  • Culinary uses: Can be eaten raw or roasted, salted as a snack. Commercially pressed for oil.
Sunflower seedsHelianthusAsteraceae / CompositaeDaisy / Composite family.Common sunflower annual plant.AngiospermAchene
  • Taste: Raw Sunflower seeds/kernels have a nutty flavor.
  • Culinary uses: Sprouting Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw. Roasted Sunflower seeds can be used as a coffee and drinking chocolate substitute. Ground Sunflower seeds can be made into Sunflower butter, Sunflower seed yogurt, mixed with cereal flowers to make bread. Edible Sunflower seed oil can be extracted from Sunflower seeds and used like Olive oil on salads and for cooking.
  • Nutrition: Sunflower seeds are anti-inflammatory, may reduce cholesterol and are high in omega-6, monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
  • Native to: Western north America.
  • Production: Grown commercially worldwide with Russia and the Ukraine producing around half the world total.

Edible Seed Types Explained

Edible Seed Types & Fruit Anatomy Definitions

  • Achene: A small, dry one-seeded fruit that doesn’t open to release the seed (e.g. Sunflower seeds, buckwheat, caraway seeds and quinoa).
  • Berry: Any fruit with its seeds enclosed in a fleshy pulp (e.g. pumpkin, currants, grapes, bananas, tomatoes).
  • Capsule: A fruit that releases its seeds and splits apart (e.g. brazil nuts, flax seeds).
  • Cypsela: Dry, one seeded fruit formed by two united carpels each consisting of an ovary, optional style and stigma (e.g. daisy family).
  • Carpel: Female reproductive organ of fruit (flowering plants) consisting of an ovary, stigma and, sometimes, a style.
  • Drupes (stone fruit): A seed surrounded by a fleshy or pulpy fruit (e.g. walnuts, almonds, pecans, peaches and coconuts). With edible drupes we eat the seed/pit/pip/stone instead of the fruit itself.
  • Kernel: Inner softer part of a nut, seed or fruit stone.
  • Husk / Hull: Dry outer coating or shell of a seed.
  • Legumes: A pod that contains multiple unenclosed seeds (e.g. peanuts, macadamia nuts, cola nuts).
  • Nuts: A fruit with a hard shell with a single[1] edible[2] seed (e.g. hazelnuts, chestnuts, nutmeg).
  • Pericarp: Three layers typically make up the pericarp/fruit:
    • Epicarp (exocarp/flavedo): Outermost layer of the pericarp/fruit (e.g. “skin” of an apple or “zesty” outer of a lemon)
    • Mesocarp: Fleshy middle layer of the pericarp/fruit (e.g. edible “flesh” of apple, “pith” layer of a “lemon”)
    • Endocarp: Inside layer of the pericarp/fruit which surrounds the seed/s (e.g. hard layer surrounding kernel of walnuts, pecans etc.)
    • Pistil: One or more carpels fused together.
[1]In rare cases a double seed. [2]Edible in most cases.

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  • This list of edible nuts and seeds was compiled by Joe Connor, last updated October 7, 2019.
  • Spotted a mistake? Do you have any suggestions to improve our list of edible nuts and seeds please add your comments below…

2 responses to “Edible Nuts and Seeds”

  1. Avatar JC says:

    Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. Your doctor is correct but actually ALL nuts are seeds – not just pine nuts. Your comment prompted us to give our edible nuts and seeds list a total makeover so now it will hopefully give a better insight into the difference between nuts, drupes, legumes etc.

  2. Avatar Angela Gorman says:

    My Doctor told me that the ‘Pine Nut’ is actually a seed, and therefore until I know results of nut allergy tests I do NOT need to avoid Pine Nuts.

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