Many people wonder – are olives fruits, vegetables or nuts? – but the answer isn’t as clear as you might expect.
Are Olives Fruits, Vegetables or Nuts?
- Fruit: Botanically speaking, a fruit is the seed-bearing organ of a plant, which usually develops from the ovary or flower. Olives have a hard pit or stone, which contains the seed for future olive trees, making these salty snacks a fruit in the eyes of science. More specifically, olives are considered drupes, or stone fruits, and are scientifically known as indehiscent fruits.
The darker the olive, the riper it is. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
- Vegetable: That being said, a vegetable is technically any edible part of a plant, so it is understandable why some people get confused and assume that olives are vegetables. Remember that all fruits are considered vegetables, but not all vegetables are considered fruits.
- Nut: Nuts are defined as a type of fruit, but they are characterized in the opposite way to olives. Whereas olives consist of a thin epicarp and a fleshy mesocarp surrounding a hard inedible endocarp (the stone), a nut is precisely the opposite. A nut is a fruit that has a hard outer shell protecting an edible seed. So, similar to vegetables, while all nuts are considered fruits, not all fruits (like olives) are considered nuts!