Difference Between Peanuts and Tree Nuts

The growth location is the Main Difference Between Peanuts and Tree Nuts. A tree nut grows on a tree whereas a peanut grows underground. That is why it has a common name -“Groundnut”. The similarity in their names creat an obvious confusion to the readers. We usually think of Peanut as a regular nut. Although it is an underground legume, not a true nut or fruit.

The peanut is an edible seed. It is not a fruit or nut. The seedpod is the true fruit formed by the ovary of the peanut flowers. On contrary to this, a true tree nut is a fruit with a hard woody shell. This shell is known as the kernel. It protects the delicate soft seed.

The seed structure and their quantity is also very different in peanut and tree nuts. A true tree nut usually has a single soft seed core. Although sometimes they can have 2 of them but not more than that. Peanuts on the other hand can have multiple seeds attached to the ovary wall or the seedpod.

Difference Between Peanut and Tree Nut
Difference Between Peanuts and Tree Nut

There’s a lot more to know about peanuts and tree nuts. Stay tuned and keep reading to fulfill your interest.

Check out my previous post: Is Coconut a Fruit or Seed?

Difference Between Peanut and Tree Nuts

Peanuts grow below the soil surface whereas Tree nuts grow on trees above the surface. Tree nuts have a hard woody shell called Kernels which is not present in peanuts. Peanuts can have multiple seeds with individual contacts in a single seedpod but a Nut can have only one or two without definite contact. The final difference is their growth rate. A peanut can grow within a couple of months but a tree nut can take 3 to 6 years to grow, mature, and yield.

Check out: 15 legumes to grow in the garden-Kitchen Garden Facts

Peanut Vs Tree Nuts

Sometimes we consider peanuts as nuts though they are not. Peanut is a legume that resembles an edible seed inside a seedpod. It is not a true fruit of nut. This categorization is not ideal for tree nuts. Every tree nut including Almond or walnuts is true to fruit. They have a hard shell cover that protects their softcore. Their shell or the Kernel is hard and woody.

The very origin of peanuts makes them different from tree nuts. Tree nuts grow on trees above the surface whereas a peanut grows underground, below the soil surface. This gives them their respective names nuts growing on a tree are tree nuts and those growing underground are groundnuts. Peanuts are named Growundnuts Although they are not fruits or nuts. Peanut is an edible seed inside a seedpod. It is categorized as Legumes.

Every Tree nut has a hard outer covering called a kernel that protects its core. Whereas peanuts do not have any woody protection. They usually have a soft seed shell to protect the seed and a solid fibrous seedpod.

The moisture content in the treen nut and peanut is also very different. Tree nuts are comparatively dry than peanuts. Peanuts are soft seeds full of moisture. They are a common source of edible oil.

Peanuts also vary with regular nuts in their development stages. A peanut flower develops a seedpod after successful pollination. Each seedpod can contain multiple peanuts. Peanut itself is not a fruit rather it is the edible seed. On the other hand, a tree nut develops from a fertilized flower into a hard kernel. The kernel is the outer covering of the fruit. The fruit or nut itself is relatively soft with only one or two seeds.

The positioning of seeds also varies in peanuts and tree nuts. Peanut seeds are connected to the ovary wall or the seedpod. Whereas the tree nuts are free from their kernel. They don’t have a single natural anchor point.

What is the Difference Between Peanut and Tree Nuts?

Many factors separate a Peanut from a regular tree nut. It may be the origin, structure, nutrition, growth pattern, hardiness zones, and many more factors that make them different from each other.

The allergic reaction is one of the very few similarities between peanuts and tree nuts. People allergic to peanuts may have a similar reaction to tree nuts. This is why many of us think peanut is a nut. But the truth is Peanut is a legume, not a nut or fruit.

To understand their dissimilarities you have to learn each criterion individually. So we have listed a few points of comparison between peanuts and tree nuts. I hope this will help you in your study.

  • Naming
  • Origin
  • Positioning
  • Germination
  • Growth Rate
  • Maturity
  • Agricultural Requirements
  • Uses
  • Nutritional Difference
  • Medical Issues
  • Moisture Content
  • Structure
  • Economic Value

Naming Peanuts and Tree nuts

The name peanut is itself very confusing as it consists of the term nut. It is a Legume by characteristics though we call it a peanut. Often, we consider it similar to other nuts. Although besides its name as peanut there is not much similarity among peanut and tree nuts.

Are Peanuts fruits, nuts, or vegetables
Are Peanuts fruits, nuts, or vegetables?

Origin of Peanuts vs Tree nuts

Peanuts are native to the southern part of states whereas Tree nuts are globally found. Different tree nuts are native to different geographic locations throughout the globe. The term peanut is given to a single legume but tree nut is not a single fruit. Instead, there are dozens of different fruits in the tree nut category. Fruits with hard woody kernels or shells are often called tree nuts.

Positioning of Peanuts vs Tree nuts

The major difference between a peanut and a tree is their position. A peanut grows underground whereas a tree nut grows on the tree. The peanut gets its common name Groundnut due to its positioning.

This variation is a clear visible difference between any tree nut a peanut. The positioning of their seed is also very crucial in determining their differences. Peanut seed is attached to the ovary wall or the seedpod at a single point but a nut has no such anchor point within its kernel. A tree nut is free from its hard kernel but the peanuts can’t do so.

Germination of a Peanut vs Tree nut

Both Peanut and tree nuts vary a lot in their seed germination. A peanut can easily germinate within a week at an ideal temperature and moisture level. It can germinate within the seedpod if allowed. Tree nuts can take more than a month to germinate. Even in ideal conditions, their germination rate is quite low.

Growth Rate & Maturity Comparison

Once the seeds germinate, the peanut will grow to its maturity within a couple of months whereas a tree nut will take several years to mature. A peanut will take 120 to 140 days from germination to harvest. On the other hand, A tree nut may take 100 days just to germinate and sprout out of its hard shell.

It will require several months to become a seedling and then onwards a couple more years to start blooming. Altogether you can get peanut harvest every year from land but a treen nut will need several years to yield.

You have to wait until those trees mature and start blooming. A single nut tree and yield for decades after reaching its blooming age or maturity.

Agricultural Requirements

A peanut is compatible to warm tropical and subtropical climates whereas tree nuts vary with their type and location. Walnuts for example grow best in cold hill areas with a moderate water supply. Almonds can grow well in the hill as well as mountain steps.

Overall, the growth or agricultural requirement for each nut tree is different Although most peanut varieties need a similar warm humid environment.

The Soil condition is crucial especially for peanuts as they grow underground. Peanuts grow well in soft well-drained nutrition-rich soil. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. Loose black soil is ideal for peanut farming Although it is not sufficient for tree nuts.

Uses of Peanuts and Tree nuts

Peanut and Tree nuts both are an essential part of our diet. They have similar dietary use. Most food supplements have one or many nuts as their ingredients. Only peanut differs as it can also yield edible oil which is not common for nuts. Peanut oil is a common edible oil all over the world.

Nutritional Difference Between Peanut and Tree Nuts

Tree nuts are rich in Iron, Magnesium, Minerals, Vitamins, and several other micronutrients. They have low saturated fat content which makes them ideal for a healthy diet. Peanuts are rich in potassium, mineral, and vitamins. They are also good for digestion but there is a problem that makes them different. Peanuts can contribute to fat saturation. They can lead to cholesterol problems. Although peanuts have a low carb content that makes them good for the diet.

Medical Issues

Peanut is known for its allergic reactions. There is a significant number of people known in the states to have mild to severe peanut allergies. This is the main reason for clear visible peanut guidelines in every packaged food. It is essential to be aware of peanuts in foods especially if you are allergic to them.

Some people may face similar difficulties with tree nuts if they are allergic to peanuts. Allergic reaction to tree nuts is common in those who have allergies to peanuts. Otherwise, Tree nuts don’t have direct critical allergic compared to peanuts.

Moisture Contents

Peanuts have high moisture content than any Tree nut. They are known to yield edible oil. Tree nuts also have sufficient moisture in them but their texture and dryness make them different from peanuts. Tree nuts can yield oil as peanuts so they are different. And yes, Tree nuts are usually considered dry fruits for their low moisture content.

Read this: Do All Fruits Have Seeds?

Structural Differences

Both Peanuts and Tree nuts have significant structural differences. They differ a lot in their formation to visible appearance.

A peanut develops from a successfully pollinated flower. At first, the ovary of the flower swells and expands. The ovary from the seedpods. The seed develops within this seedpod. The seed itself is the peanut. These seeds have a single point of contact to the ovary wall or the seedpod. The plant feed and nurtures the seed through this connection until it matures and drops off. Peanuts are dehiscent fruits that spread their seed after maturity.

Tree nuts develop a little differently for peanuts. The journey starts the same. The fertilized flowers swell to form the fruit. Though it has a hard woody covering the actual fruit stays within. The covering is just for protection and is known as Kernel. Tree nuts are usually single-seeded, although they can have at most 2 seeds occasionally. The nuts do not have any anchor or point of contact with the kernel wall. It is so because the visible part within the kernel is the fruit itself and the seed is fused within. Tree nuts are Indehisient Fruit which means they don’t break and scatter their seeds after maturity. Their hard woody covering stays intact even after maturity.

Economic Value

Peanuts are cheap and more affordable than any Tree nuts. This does not mean peanuts are not good or have low importance. Their growth condition, pattern, and required time with resources make their price different.

A tree nut can take several years to grow and after that the quality of yield is important. Although you can easily grow two peanut crops in a single year. It only needs good soil condition with a long growing season. This difference is sufficient to increase the price of Tree nuts relatively.


Peanuts grow underground whereas Tree nuts grow on their respective trees. they differ in shape, size, structure, taste, uses, and economic values. So it is quiet is to state peanut is different from tree nut, they are legumes, not fruit.


Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not just a hobby, it's a way of living life with nature. My Ancestors were Commercial farmers: So I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here only to share my gardening experiences. It's always Refreshing.

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