When is a Nut not a Nut

Posted on : March 12th, 2020

mixed nuts

Well, to be perfectly honest, very few of the nuts we sell at Maisie Jane’s are actually nuts from a botanical point of view! Except for maybe walnuts and pecans—people debate about whether those are botanically nuts. They’re known as known as “drupaceous nuts” which means that they share characteristics of drupes and also of true nuts but botanists can’t agree on which category to put them in.

Umm, what’s a drupe?

Well, I’m sure that question has never crossed your mind, but since we went there, you should know that ALL the rest of the nuts we sell in bags at Maisie Jane’s are actually drupes! Drupes are the stone or pit found inside a fruit. Think of peaches and you get the idea. Drupes have a seed inside a hard protective covering. That’s the part we eat. But not all drupe seeds are edible! Peach pit seeds, for example, are poisonous but the seed inside many other types of drupes are not. And many are great to eat even when the fleshy fruit around them is not. Confusing! Our ancestors were probably REALLY hungry when they discovered what was okay to eat and what wasn’t. We owe them a world of debt.

So if most of Maisie Jane’s nuts— almonds, cashews, and pistachios—are actually drupes, what is a nut? According to botanists, a true nut is “a hard-shelled pod that contains both the fruit and seed of the plant, where the fruit does not open to release the seed to the world.” So, are peanuts nuts? Nope. They are the seeds inside a legume, similar to chickpeas, lentils or soybeans. I guess you could call them “beans” but nobody likes to think of them like that. True nuts come from trees and are actually fruit (at least from a botanical point of view)!

Don’t make me explain that one. Alright, I’ll try. Fruits grow from the flowers of a plant and have seeds for reproduction. Botanically, nuts are classified as a fruit that has a single edible seed with a hard, inedible outer shell that doesn’t open when ripe. Examples of true nuts include acorns, chestnuts and hazelnuts.

Honestly, speaking as a layperson, this is all completely nuts to me! But we don’t have to quibble over semantics. They’re all nuts when it comes to eating! And that’s good enough for me.


Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality, nut products. We strongly believe in earth-friendly practices that start on our family-owned and operated orchards. We use organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.