Is Coconut a Nut, Fruit or Seed?

Posted on September 29 2022, By: Lisa Reyes

Is Coconut a Nut, Fruit or Seed?

There's been confusion as to what a coconut really is. Is it a nut? Fruit? Or seed? From a purely botanical perspective, coconuts are classified as fibrous, one-seeded drupes. Just like a peach or a plum, a drupe is a fleshy fruit with a hard, stony pit containing a seed.

Coconut: A Fruit

Coconut is a drupe, which is a type of fruit. The coconut you typically see in the store already has its outer layer (exocarp) and fibrous middle layer (mesocarp) removed. All you see at the grocery is a coconut with its endocarp, a hard woody layer that surrounds the seed and coconut "meat". This happens to be the oh-so-delicious part of the coconut - the fleshy, tasty "meat", and the refreshing coconut "water" in the coconut's endocarp.

Coconut: Also a Seed

Scientists also classify coconut as a seed. A seed is the reproductive part of a flowering plant. A coconut has a seed with a baby plant inside! The baby plant shoots out of the coconut's "eyes" (one of the 3 holes or pores on a coconut). Thus the coconut is a seed too.

Not a True Nut!

However, a coconut is not a true nut. True nuts like acorns and chestnuts do not open up to release seeds to the world. In the case of a coconut, the seed germinates and then sprouts from the pores, which eventually splits.

Now you've got the botanists' inside info - a coconut is a fruit and a seed, but not a true nut!