Peanuts or groundnuts are not actually nuts, and neither do they grow on trees like other nuts. They are legumes that grow under the ground with the plant growing above the ground to about 60 cm in height. It is planted in the months of April and May, and harvested after 4-5 months. The growth and production of these legumes is very interesting. So if you want to know where peanuts come from, keep reading.
Growth and Production
Peanuts were first planted in 1000 BCE in South America. The plant grows to a height of about 18 inches and bears small yellow flowers after about 40 days of planting. After pollinating, the flowers dry up and fruits are formed. Unlike other legumes, the fruits grow towards the ground with the help of stems. These fruits develop seeds inside the ground, and this is the peanut that we eat. Peanuts are harvested after 5 months from plantation.
Peanut plants can be planted at home in pots too. Even though the plant originated in South America, it is now grown all over the world. There are about four types grown in America today, but there are many varieties of the plant that are grown in other parts of the world.
The varieties grown in America are mentioned below:
- Spanish peanuts: These are used mainly to make candies and peanut oil, and are found in Oklahoma and Texas.
- Valencia peanuts: They are known to be the sweetest of the four types, and are mainly grown in Northern Mexico.
- Virginia peanuts: These are roasted and sold with or without their shells. They are grown in Virginia, and North and South Carolina.
- Runner peanuts: The famous peanut butter is made from these nuts, and they are grown all over the United States.
Though these nuts originated in South America, today the percentage of peanuts produced in that region is negligible in comparison to some other countries of the world. China at 37.5%, India at 19%, and Nigeria at 11% are some of the major producers of peanuts in the world. In the US, Georgia is mainly famous for peanut plantations. It has about 14,418 peanut farms, and every year almost 70 to 80 counties in Georgia produce almost 2 billion pounds of peanuts.
Facts You May Want to Know
- Columbus discovered peanuts in 1492 when he landed on the island of Haiti. These plants were then introduced to China and India by American missionaries and travelers.
- They are also very nutritious and are used in different delicacies and dishes all around the world. Peanut oil is used as a cooking oil in many countries.
- They are rich in magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper and zinc. They also provide vitamin E and folate (vitamin B9).
- Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson was the first to patent peanut butter in 1884, but its origins can be traced as far back as the Aztec civilization.
- Most of the peanut pods contain two seeds, but sometimes they can contain five.
- About ¼th of the world's population suffer from peanut allergy, and it is known to be the second most common food allergy in children.
- Peanuts and peanut butter along with olive oil, when consumed with a low-fat diet, results in 10% reduction in cholesterol levels of the body.
- As peanuts or peanut butter can fill your stomach for at least another two hours after consumption, you can have a better control over your diet, and hence, your weight.
- They are a great snack, as they not only fill your stomach, but also help you stay healthy and fit.
Even though peanuts were discovered in South America, today we can grow them anywhere, even in our backyard. If you are not a peanut fan, think again, as these little pink seeds can make a lot of difference to your health.