Is a coconut a nut, a fruit or a seed?

Coconut drink.jpg

Coconuts are actually classified as a one seeded drupe. I know what you’re thinking…”What on earth is a drupe?” A drupe is fruit with a hard, stony cover enclosing the seed. A drupe has three levels, an exocarp (outer layer), a mesocarp (fleshy middle layer) and an endocarp (the hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed). This classification makes coconuts related to other fruits that are considered drupes like peaches or olives.

Some may be baffled because of the word nut, which appears in the word coconut. A nut can be loosely defined as a one seeded fruit which allows coconuts to fall under this category as well. However, officially, the coconut is not a true nut because, unlike a true nut, it opens at maturity to release its seeds.

So now you know, if anyone asks…a coconut is a drupe which is a fruit with one seed. Now that’s a tongue twister if I ever heard one.

Heather Woolery-Lloyd