Skip to content

Difference Between Seeds and Grains


Seeds and grains are an important part of botany and horticultural studies. People often confuse grains and seeds with each other. However, the most critical difference between seeds and grains is that the seed is an embryonic plant. On the other hand, grains are the seed or fruit of grasses. They are found abundantly in different types of ecosystems globally. While both are related, they are distinct from a botanical point of view. Let’s tell you all the differences between seeds and grains.

Comparison Table

DefinitionPart of plant
containing embryo
Seed of grass
PurposeCommercial sowingNutrient
PartsEmbryo, seed coat,
and endosperm
Bran, embryo,
and endosperm
PurityGenetically pureUnknown
with Chemicals
ExamplesMustard, cotton,
castor beans, etc.
Cereals, rice,
wheat, barley, etc.

What are Seeds?

Seed is an essential reproductive element in plants. Seeds are present in both angiosperm and gymnosperm plants. All types of Gymnosperms possess naked seeds because the plants do not have fruits or flowers; hence, their seeds are exposed. Angiosperms have matured ovules that develop within the fruits after fertilization.

Parts of Seed

The seed has three main parts:

  • A seed coat protecting the whole seed
  • The endosperm acts as a food reserve for the plant
  • The embryo within the seed that sprouts in favorable conditions

Functions of Seed

  • Seeds produce various products, such as Oil from castor beans, margarine, paints, and lubricants.
  • They contribute to the development of the new plant via germination.
  • Seeds are the source of food reservoirs in the form of endosperm found in seeds.

Types of Seeds

The seed can be of two types based on the number of cotyledons;

Monocotyledonous Seeds

As the name indicates, monocots have only one cotyledon. It means that the seed coat has only one outer layer. Monocots’ seed embryos possess only one large cotyledon called scutellum. Examples of monocot seeds include ginger, sorghum, onion, coconut, and garlic.

Dicotyledonous Seeds

Dicot seeds, contrary to monocots, have two embryonic cotyledons compared to monocotyledons. Data suggests the existence of around 200,000 dicotyledon species. The embryo in a dicotyledonous seed comprises an embryo axis and two cotyledons. Peas, almonds, and cashews are dicotyledonous seeds.

Examples of Seeds

Cotton, mustard, and sunflower are examples of seeds.

What are Grains?

Grains are the seeds of grasses. They belong to the Poaceae family. The species is generally known as the grass family. Grains have high levels of nutrients and are commonly regarded as economically valuable. They cultivate lawn areas and pastures. Grains in the shape of bread, rice, or quinoa tend to make up the bulk of the human diet.

Parts of Grains

Grains comprise three main components:

Functions of Grains

  • Grains provide an estimated 48 percent of human calories and are widely consumed globally.
  • Grains make cooking oils, fuels, cosmetics, and alcohol.
  • Some grains also produce industrial products like corn.
  • Grains provide carbohydrates along with other essential micro and macronutrients.

Types of Grains

True Cereal Grains

Most of the cereals belonging to the family Poaceae are true cereal grains. Some examples include wheat, barley, oats and sorghum.

Pseudo-Cereal Grains

The pseudo-cereal group is not a member of the Poaceae botanical family, but they have similar nutritional properties to the true grains. Pseudo-cereals are largely used in the production of niche bread, flatbreads, crispbreads, pasta, snack bars, and an alternative to pasta and rice. Amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa are a few widely used grains.

Examples of Grains

Wheat, oats, and rice are the most commonly consumed grains in the world.

Difference Between Seed And Grains



A seed is part of a plant containing an embryo that develops into a new plant.


Grains are a single unit of fruit or seed of grasses used as food.



A seed is utilized for commercial sowing to grow new plants.


While edible grains are used for consumption purposes due to their nutritional content.



The seed contains three main parts – embryo, seed coat, and endosperm.


On the other hand, grains consist of bran, embryo, and endosperm. An additional caryopsis is present when the fruit wall is fused with the coat in some grains.



Viability is important in seeds.


Alternatively, grains are not viable like seeds.



Seeds must satisfy good seed health and be genetically pure.


However, the purity of grains is unknown.

Treatment with Chemicals


Seeds are treated with pesticides, insecticides, and other required chemicals to prevent them from fungus, molds, and other insect attacks.


On the contrary, grains do not need such chemicals to treat because they are consumed widely.

Quality Check


Seeds should meet quality standards. The seed certification agency provides certificates to the approved seed.


Conversely, any kind of certification does not apply to grains.

Quality Standards


Seeds should meet all quality standards. The quality control team supervises the seed purity, quality, storage, packaging, and labeling.


Meanwhile, grains do not need to meet quality standards.



Examples of seeds include mustard, cotton, and castor beans.


Grain examples include cereals, rice, wheat, and barley.

The Bottom Line

Seeds and grains are widely dispersed in different habitats and ecosystems. They are important elements of sexual reproduction in plants to sustain different species. They often look similar yet vary in their exact definition. The major difference between seeds and grains is that the seed is an embryonic plant, while grains are the seed or fruit of grasses. Seeds should meet specific quality standards, but you do not need quality certification for grains. Moreover, grains are typically not sprayed with pesticides as they become unsuitable for consumption.


Is a grain a seed?

Grains are the harvested seeds of grasses like oats, corn, wheat, and rice. Grains are also known as cereals and are consumed globally.

Why is it called grain not seed?

The seeds of grasses are known as grains. They comprise a ripened ovary containing a ripened ovule.

Which seeds are not grains?

Many seeds may feel like grains but are not so. These include quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, amaranth, and teff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *