Are Olives Fruits Or Vegetables

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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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.
Three bowls of black and green olives on a black background decorated with leaves

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!
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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