Fruit classifications: Is Coconut a Fruit?
Coconuts are tricky to classify. They’re very sweet and tend to be eaten like fruits, but like nuts, they have a hard outer shell and need to be cracked open.
As such, you may wonder how to categorize them both biologically and from a culinary standpoint.
To understand whether coconuts are fruits or nuts, it’s important to understand the differences between these two categories.
Botanically, fruits are reproductive parts of a plant’s flowers. This includes its ripened ovaries, seeds, and nearby tissues. This definition includes nuts, which are a type of closed seed.
However, plants can also be classified by their culinary uses. For example, rhubarb is technically a vegetable but has a sweetness similar to that of a fruit. In contrast, tomatoes are botanically a fruit but have the mild, unsweet flavor of a vegetable.
Despite having the word “nut” in its name, a coconut is a fruit not a nut.
In fact, a coconut falls under a subcategory known as drupes, which are defined as fruits that have an inner flesh and seed surrounded by a hard shell. This includes a variety of fruits, such as peaches, pears, walnuts, and almonds.
The seeds in drupes are protected by outer layers known as the endocarp, mesocarp, and exocarp. Meanwhile, nuts do not contain these protective layers. A nut is a hard-shelled fruit that does not open to release a seed.
Confusingly, certain types of drupes and nuts can be classified as tree nuts. Technically, a tree nut is any fruit or nut that grows from a tree. Therefore, a coconut is a type of tree nut that falls under the classification of a drupe.
Coconuts are a delicious, versatile fruit enjoyed all over the world.
Despite its name, coconut is not a nut but a type of fruit known as a drupe.
Most people with tree nut allergies can safely eat coconut and its products without any symptoms of a reaction. Still, you should speak to a healthcare professional before trying coconut if you have an extreme allergy to tree nuts.
Despite being shaped like a seed and having a name that includes the word “nut,” coconut is a delicious fruit.