I've got a field collection attached to a node. Given the entity ID of a given instance of that collection, how do I obtain the nid to which it's associated?

When using entity_load, the nid for some reason is a protected property, so I can't access it. I must be missing something.

Update: using node_load on this entity ID returns false.

  • If you use node_load() instead of entity_load() you should be able to access it. Any particular reason why you are using entity_load()? Dec 12, 2011 at 18:37
  • I had no idea you could use node_load(). Nice! I will try this.
    – Justin
    Dec 15, 2011 at 15:57
  • I don't see it in the node_load() object. What am I looking for?
    – Justin
    Dec 15, 2011 at 16:01
  • node_load() takes the nid as the argument. :-)
    – paul-m
    Jan 15, 2012 at 0:20
  • Guys, I know how node_load works. It returns false when I give it this entity ID (which is for a field collection).
    – Justin
    Jan 26, 2012 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


It's important to understand that if all you have is the id of any entity, then there is no way to load a specific entity with that id. Since entity_id's are not unique across entity-types, it is necessary to know both the entity type, and the entity id.

See Developers need an $entity->entity_type property for a discussion on changing this for D7, as well as info about how this will be likely be handled in D8.

On the other hand, as pointed out in a different answer, if you already know that the entity id is a node id, then you can call an entity specific load function like node_load($nid). Since most entities will have such a load function to support named arguments, such a "shortcut" function will be almost universally available.

Examples: node_load(), taxonomy_term_load(), commerce_product_load().


In this example Classroom is a content type (entity) with a field called field_students. field_students is a node reference field, and it references nodes (entities) of content type Student.

// Get all the Student items attached to a field. 
$studets = field_get_items('node', $classroom, 'field_students');

// Get the node id of the Student entity in the first field entry.
$student_nid = $studets[0]['nid'];

// Create a full object (node) representation of the student.
$student_obj = node_load($student_nid);
  • This has nothing to do with a field collection
    – AlxVallejo
    Jan 26, 2015 at 17:13

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