Edible Nuts and Seeds
What’s the Difference Between a Nut and a Seed?
In botanical terms, all nuts are seeds. Most so-called nuts are NOT nuts, but fruit seeds! In culinary terms, any edible nuts and seeds used as a nut in the kitchen can be called nuts. Confused? It’s helpful for nut allergy sufferers to understand the differences between edible seeds, nuts, kernels, drupes, legumes etc. so we put this list of edible nuts and seeds together…
*Important!* This list of edible nuts and seeds is published for information purposes only and does NOT constitute medical advice. Always seek professional medical advice about nut allergies.
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|Nut||Species / Genus||Family||Common Family Term||Nut Tree or Plant||Angiosperm/ Gymnosperm||Fruit Type||Facts & Info|
|Acorn (Oak nut)||Quercus||Fagaceae||Beech family||English Oak tree, Pedunculate Oak tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Acorns are edible once the bitter tannins have been leached out in water, and were a staple food in some earlier cultures. Roasted chopped acorns can be used as an Almond alternative. Acorns were used as a coffee substitute by the Germans in WWII and the Confederates in the American civil war. There are hundreds of oak species.|
|Almond||Prunus dulcis||Amygdalus||Almond family||Almond tree, Sweet almond tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Raw sweet Almonds taste delicious. Raw bitter 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.|
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 from the eastern Mediterranean to central Asia, Almonds are the fourth most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts, Peanuts and Cashew nuts.
|Araucaria nuts (piñas, pinhas, piñones, pinhões)||Araucaria araucana||Araucariaceae||Araucaria family||Monkey Puzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine tree, pehuén tree||Gymnosperm||No fruit||Raw Araucaria nuts are delicious, soft like a cashew nut and similar to pine nuts. Can also be cooked. Native to Chile and Argentina.|
|Beechnuts||Fagus sylvatica||Fagaceae||Beech family||Beech tree, Common Beech tree, European beech tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Beechnuts are small. The nuts from this species taste pleasant and sweet, most other species taste bitter. 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 other species are grown worldwide, primarily for wood.|
|Black walnut (Greek Nut, Akhort)||Juglans nigra||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Black walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Black walnuts taste great raw, with a distinctive rich, sweet flavor. 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 nut||Bertholletia excelsa||Lecythidaceae||Sapucaya family||Brazil nut tree||Angiosperm||Capsule||Brazil nuts are highly nutritious with a mild flavor. Brazils can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked or pressed for oil which has a nutty flavor and can be used like olive oil. Native to North and western South America.|
|Breadnut (Maya nut, ramon)||Brosimum alicastrum||Moraceae||Fig and Mulberry family||Breadnut tree, Maya nut tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Breadnuts are high in fiber and can be eaten raw or dried or cooked. Breadnuts taste like coffee or chocolate when roasted and mashed potato if stewed. Can be used in powder form in bread and hot drinks. Native to Central America and the Caribbean, probably a staple food of the Mayans.|
|Butternut (White Walnut)||Juglans cinerea||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Butternut tree, White walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Butternuts taste sweet, oily and rich. Can be eaten raw, ground into flour or pressed for oil. Native to eastern USA and southeast Canada.|
|Candlenut (Kukui nuts, Buah Keras, Candleberry, Indian walnut, Kemiri)||Aleurites moluccanus||Euphorbiaceae||Spurge family||Candlenut tree, Indian walnut tree, kemiri tree, varnish tree, nuez de la India tree, buah keras tree, kukui nut tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Used as candles because they have a hard seed coat and high oil content. Used in Indonesian (Kemiri) and Malaysian (Buah Keras) cuisine, cosmetics and pressed for oil. Candlenut trees are widespread in tropical countries.|
|Cashew||Anacardium||Anacardiaceae||Cashew family||Cashew tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Cashews are the seed of the cashew apple. Cashew nuts are popular as snacks and in Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine. Native to Brazil but now commercially produced in tropical countries on most continents. Cashew nuts are the third most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts and peanuts.|
|Chestnut (Chinquapin, Chinkapin)||Castanea||Fagaceae||Beech family||Chestnut tree, Chinquapin tree, Chinkapin tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Chestnuts are gluten free, low in fat and protein compared to most nuts, with carbohydrate levels similar to rice and wheat. Can cause flatulence. Chestnuts are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C. Roasted Chestnuts can be used as a coffee substitute. Sugar can be extracted from Chestnuts. There are European, Chinese, Japanese and American chestnut varieties and Chestnuts are grown commercially worldwide. Chestnuts rank sixth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.|
|Chilean hazel (Avellano chileno)||Gevuina avellana||Proteaceae||Protea family||Chilean hazel tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||The seeds can be eaten raw, boiled or toasted. High in mono-unsaturated oils, rich in antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene. Its oil is an ingredient in some sunscreens. Also used in cosmetics. Native to south America but grown worldwide.|
|Chilghoza Pine nut||Pinus gerardiana||Pinaceae||Pine family||Chilghoza Pine, Noosa / Neoza||gymnosperms||No fruit||Chilghoza Pine nuts taste slightly resinous. A popular staple local food source. Native to northwestern Himalayas and east Asia.|
|Coconut||Cocos nucifera||Arecaceae||Palm family||Coconut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||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 regia||Juglandaceae||Walnut family||English walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||English walnuts are creamy white to light brown and taste delicious raw. They can also be 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 from eastern Europe to north Asia and also naturalized in south England. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.|
|Filbert (Hazelnut, Cobnut)||Corylus maxima||Betulaceae||Hazel family||Filbert tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Filbert nuts are edible with a sweet flavor and closely related to the common Hazelnut. Filbert is a species of hazel native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Filberts are also grown commercially in Oregon, USA.|
|Gabon Nut (African Walnut)||Coula edulis||Olacaceae||Sour Plum Family||Gabon nut tree, African walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Mild flavor. Can be boiled, roasted and fermented. Used for flour and cooking oil. Found in tropical western Africa.|
|Ginkgo nuts (Gingko, (Bai Guo)||Ginkgo biloba||Ginkgoaceae||–||Ginkgo biloba tree, Maidenhair tree||gymnosperms||Drupe|
Native from eastern Asia to northern China. Considered living fossils because they have remained in their current form for many thousands of years.
|Hazelnut (Cob Nuts, Filbert)||Corylus||Betulaceae||Birch family||Common Hazel tree||Angiosperm||Nut||There are over a dozen species in the Corylus genus, which are all edible and all basically Hazelnuts, including Filbert nuts. Exactly what Hazel nuts are called in your locale is very localized and even varies by generation.|
|Heartseed walnut||Juglans ailanthifolia cordiformis||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Heartseed walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Heartseed walnuts taste great raw with a mild flavor and are often used in desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly. Native from east Asia across to Japan. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.|
|Hickory||Carya||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Hickory tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||We’ve listed popular edible Hickory nut sub-species separately. Hickory is primarily used for making tools and wood burning. Hickory can be found across north America, Mexico and Asia|
|Italian stone pine nut||Pinus pinea||Pinaceae||Pine family||Italian stone pine, Umbrella pine, Parasol pine||gymnosperms||No fruit||Italian stone pine nuts have a soft texture with a hint of resin. 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 the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. Naturalized in north and south Africa, New South Wales, Australia.
|Japanese walnut||Juglans ailantifolia||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Japanese walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Japanese walnuts taste good raw and are 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. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.|
|Johnstone River almond||Elaeocarpus bancroftii||Elaeocarpaceae||–||Kuranda quandong tree, ebony heart tree, grey nut tree, nut tree, nutwood tree, Johnstone River almond tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Edible nut with an excellent flavor, said to rival Macadamia nuts. Native to northeastern Queensland, Australia.|
|Kola nut (Cola)||Cola acuminata||Malvaceae||Mallow / Cotton family||Cola nut tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Edible nut rich in catechine-caffeine (colanine). Can be roasted, ground into a powder for use in drinks, or chewed. When chewed it has an initial bitter taste but leaves a sweet aftertaste which persists to food eaten afterwards. Used to flavor Coca Cola style drinks. Native to tropical rain forests in Africa.|
|Korean pine nut||Pinus koraiensis||Pinaceae||Pine family||Korean Nut pine, Chinese pinenut||gymnosperms||No fruit||Korean pine nuts have a hint of resin and a soft texture and 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 nut||Brachychiton populneus||Malvaceae||Mallow / Cotton family||Kurrajong nut tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Can be eaten raw, roasted or ground into a powder and used in bread and baked goods. Originally popular with Aboriginal Australians the highly nutritious nuts have a rich earthy flavor. The roasted nuts can be used as a coffee substitute. Native to mainland Australia.|
|Macadamia nut (Queensland nut, bauple nut, bush nut, Hawaii nut, maroochi nut)||Macadamia integrifolia||Proteaceae||Protea family||Macadamia nut tree, Queensland nut tree, bauple nut tree, bush nut tree, Hawaii nut tree, maroochi nut tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Macadamia nuts, also known as the Queen of nuts, are edible with a sweet, delicate flavor and crunchy texture perfect for desserts including biscuits, cakes and ice cream. Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked, ground into flour or pressed for oil, which can then be used like olive oil.|
|Malabar chestnut (French peanut, Guiana chestnut)||Pachira aquatica||Malvaceae||Mallow / Cotton family||Malabar chestnut tree, French peanut tree, Guiana chestnut tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Malabar chestnuts are can be eaten raw and taste like peanuts, or fried or roasted and taste similar to other chestnuts. 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. Native to central and south America.|
|Manchurian walnut ( Chinese walnut)||Juglans cathayensis||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Manchurian walnut tree, Chinese walnut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Chinese walnuts have thick shells and small seeds. Chinese walnuts taste good raw and 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 nut||Pinus cembroides||Pinaceae||Pine family||Mexican Pine, Pinyon Pine, Mexican pinyon, Mexican stone pine||gymnosperms||No fruit||Mexican Pine nuts have an oily taste and are great raw and roasted. Ground into Can be ground into pine nut meal or pine nut flour to make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, cakes etc. Highest in protein and lowest in starch of the piñons. Native to southern north America and Mexico.|
|Mongongo nut (mongongo nut, manketti tree)||Schinziophyton rautanenii||Euphorbiaceae||Spurge family||Mongongo nut tree, mongongo nut tree, manketti tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Mongongo nuts are nutritious and can be eaten raw, pounded and used as an ingredient or cooked. Roasted Mongongo nuts taste like Cashew nuts or Brazil nuts or, when roasted longer, like vintage cheese! Rich in oil which is extracted and used locally for cooking. Native to tropical Africa.|
|Nutmeg||Myristica fragrans||Myristicaceae||Nutmeg family||Nutmeg tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Nutmeg is one of the most versatile nuts and seeds for culinary use. 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||Elaeis guineensis (African) / Elaeis oleifera (American)||Arecaceae||Palm family||Palm tree||Angiosperm||Nut||African, American (and other of Oil Palm tree species) produce two types of oil. Palm oil from the fruit and Palm kernel oil from the kernels/Palm nuts. Both have a wide range of 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. African Oil Palms are native to tropical west and central Africa. American Oil Palms are native to central and south America.|
|Paradise (Cream nut, Monkey pot, Sapucaia, Castanha-de-Sapucaia )||Lecythis pisonis||Lecythidaceae||Brazil nut family||Paradise tree, Cream nut tree, Monkey pot tree, Sapucaia tree, Castanha-de-Sapucaia tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Paradise nuts are similar in shape and size to Brazil nuts but sweeter with a soft, creamy texture. Paradise nuts are highly nutritious and can be eaten raw or pressed for oil which is pale yellow and smells and tastes similar to almond oil. Native to south America.|
|Peanut (Groundnut, Goober)||Arachis hypogaea||Fabaceae / Leguminosae||Pea, Bean, Legume family||Peanut plant (annual plant)||Angiosperm||Legume||Peanuts grow in pods underground not on trees. Peanuts are a staple food in many tropical areas and valuable export. Native to south America. As food:|
After Coconuts, peanuts are the most widely produced of edible nuts and seeds worldwide.
|Peanut Tree nut||Sterculia quadrifida||Malvaceae||Mallow / Cotton family||Peanut tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Peanut tree nuts are satin-black in color, they taste similar to peanuts and hazelnuts and can be eaten raw or cooked. Native to Australia.|
|Pecan||Carya illinoinensis||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Pecan tree||Angiosperm||Drupe|
Native to the mid-southern states of the USA.
|Pili||Canarium ovatum||Burseraceae||Frankincense family||Pili tree||Angiosperm||Drupe|
Native to eastern Asia, grown commercially in the Philippines.
|Pine nut||Pinus edulis||Pinaceae||Pine family||Twoneedle 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||gymnosperms||No fruit|
Native to the south western states of the USA.
|Piñon nut||Pinus monophylla||Pinaceae||Pine family||Single Leaf Piñon, Single Leaf Pinyon, Stone Pine, Pine Pinyon||gymnosperms||No fruit||Piñon nuts have an oily almond-like flavor. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Used in used in baked goods and sweetmeats. Lowest in protein and fats and highest in starch of the piñons. Native to the USA and northwest Mexico.|
|Pistachio||Pistacia vera||Anacardiaceae||Cashew family||Pistachio nut tree||Angiosperm||Drupe|
The pistachio tree one of the world’s oldest surviving tree species and is mentioned in the bible. Native to western Asia.
|Poppy seed||Papaver somniferum||Papaveraceae||Poppy family||Opium Poppy annual plant||Angiosperm||Porose Capsule|
Native from Europe to Asia.
|Pumpkin seeds (Pepita)||Cucurbita pepo||Cucurbitaceae||Gourd family||Pumpkin annual climbing plant (Ozark melon plant, Texas gourd plant)||Angiosperm||Berry / Pepo|
Today Pumpkins are grown worldwide but their origin is unclear, probably central America.
|Red Bopple nut (Beef nut, Ivory silky oak, Monkey nut, Red nut, Rose nut)||Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia||Proteaceae||Protea family||Red Bopple nut tree||Angiosperm||Nut||Red Bopple nuts are edible. Native to the subtropical rain forest in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia|
|Saba nut||Pachira glabra||Malvaceae||Mallow / Cotton family||Saba nut tree||Angiosperm||Legume||Saba nuts can be boiled or roasted like chestnuts and taste similar to groundnuts. Rich in oil. Native to south America.|
|Sesame seed||Sesamum indicum||Pedaliaceae||Pedalium family||Sesame||Angiosperm||Capsule|
Today Sesame seeds are grown worldwide. India, China and Nigeria are leading producers. Their origin is unclear, probably Africa.
|Shagbark hickory||Carya ovata||Juglandaceae||Walnut and hickory family||Shagbark hickory tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Equally popular with people and squirrels, can be used as an alternative to Pecans in recipes. Only found in eastern north America. Unsuitable for commercial production.|
|Souari Nut (Pekea, Butternut of Guiana)||Caryocar nuciferum||Caryocaraceae||–||Souari Nut tree, Pekea tree, Butternut of Guiana, tree||Angiosperm||Drupe||Souari nuts are large, soft, rich and taste similar to Almonds only sweeter. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Can be pressed for oil.|
|Sunflower seed||Helianthus||Asteraceae / Compositae||Daisy / Composite family||Common sunflower annual plant||Angiosperm||Achene|
Native to western north America. Grown commercially worldwide with Russia and the Ukraine producing around half the world total.
ADDucation Lists Related to Edible Nuts and Seeds:
- List of Common Fruit Families…
- Vegetable Family Groups…
- Important Vitamin Supplements…
- Useful Glossary of Cooking Terms…
ADDucation Quizzes: Test Your Cooking Knowledge:
- Culinary Cleverness Quiz – So you think you know your edible nuts and seeds?
- More great quizzes in the ADDucation QUIZ zone…
- Do you speak German? Please find more nuts and seeds on Nüsse, Obst und Früchte…
- Spotted a mistake? Do you have any suggestions to improve our list of edible nuts and seeds please add your comments below…