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Name: Robert
Grade: N/A
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What is the scientific distinct between nuts and grains?

The main distinction is not one of science but of agronomy. In general, nuts grow on trees, and grains are members of the grass family and grow on soft stalks. Having said that, peanuts do neither - they grow on a low bush and they are actually formed in the grown, rather than on the branches above ground. They are called nuts because, like most nuts , they have an edible kernel inside a hard woody shell. All grains are related and are members of the same family as all the grasses. They usually grow at the top of a stalk which protrudes above the leaves of the plant. This makes them easy to harvest, so it is easy to see how they came to the attention of early men. Both grains and nuts are seeds, and as such contain not only a significant portion of protein in the 'germ' or genetic material of the seed, but usually have a significant reserve of carbohydrates, fats and oils as food for the prouting plant. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats make seeds a very significant food source, so it is understandable that they have become the staple food in almost every region of the world, whether it be wheat, millet, rice, barley or oats. Nuts are far less abundant than most grains, but being larger they offer a seasonal bonus, but are not in such quantities as to make a basis for the daily meal each day.

Nigel Skelton
Tennant Creek High School

Dear Robert,

The following page should be helpful:

Nut: One-seeded fruit with hard pericarp.
br> Grain (Caryopsis): One-seeded fruit; pericarp fused with seed coat.

Anthony Brach
Missouri Botanical Garden
c/o Harvard University Herbaria

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