Field Guides > Tree Guides > Identifying common tree nuts and seeds

Identifying common tree nuts and seeds

Hello! This guide is here to help you quickly and easily identify some of our most common trees by their nuts and seeds. Simple scroll down and browse the nuts and seeds available to see which looks similar to the one you wish to identify, then click the link below each image to visit that tree’s profile page and see its other clues and check its identity. Please note, I have not yet completed all the tree profiles, so only some of them are linked.

Using our tree nuts and seeds identification guide

Nuts and seeds are really easy to find both down on the earth and up in the trees, providing wonderful clues about the trees that grow in an area. The main things to consider when attempting to identify a nut or tree seed, are:

  • Wings (shape and how many)
  • Husks (and if they are smooth or spiky)
  • Cups (almost always acorns)

If you struggle identifying a particular nut or seed, you can always use other clues to help you narrow the tree down. For example, you can use the leaves or the bark, or even how and where the tree is growing. Remember, our advice is to always use all available clues.

Interesting nut facts

All seeds are little incubators for baby trees and packed with the essential nutrients needed to start little acorns off on their path to becoming great oaks. But, because they house such precious cargo, nuts and seeds are designed to disperse and survive. By being able to disperse, they help the baby tree find a spot to grow away from direct completion for water, sunlight and nutrients, which their parents would otherwise take from them. 

There are several ways that seeds can disperse, including flying, floating, rolling and bouncing. You can learn more about how flying seeds fly here. But did you know, that nuts are also a type of seed, and in fact, all nuts and seeds are types of fruit? That’s right! But, instead of the soft juicy flesh we expect on  fruity fruits, these have a tough skin or casing instead. This is to protect the little seedling inside as the seed falls to the earth. Even the wings on flying seeds are a modified fruit membrane. 

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