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Peanut

 

The peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume or "bean" family (Fabaceae). The peanut was probably first domesticated and cultivated in the valleys of Paraguay. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 30 to 50 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets; each leaflet is 1 to 7 cm long and 1 to 3 cm across.

 

The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm across, yellow with reddish veining. Hypogaea means "under the earth"; after pollination, the flower stalk elongates causing it to bend until the ovary touches the ground. Continued stalk growth then pushes the ovary underground where the mature fruit develops into a legume pod, the peanut – a classical example of geocarpy. Pods are 3 to 7 cm long, containing 1 to 4 seeds.

 

Peanuts are known by many other local names such as earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts. Despite its name and appearance, the peanut is not a nut, but rather a legume.

Peanut

 

Cultivation in China

 

The peanut was introduced to China by Portuguese traders in the 17th century and another variety by American missionaries in the 19th century.

 

They became popular and are featured in many Chinese dishes, often being boiled. During the 1980s, peanut production began to increase so greatly that as of 2006, China was the world's largest peanut producer. A major factor in this increase was the household-responsibility system, which moved financial control from the government to the farmers.

 

Varied applications

 

Peanuts have many uses. They can be eaten raw, used in recipes, made into solvents and oils, medicines, textile materials, and peanut butter, as well as many other uses. Popular confections made from peanuts include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, peanut candy bars, peanut butter cookies, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail-size plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their relative cost compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. Although peanut butter has been a tradition on camping trips and the like because of its high protein content and because it resists spoiling for long periods of time, the primary use of peanut butter is in the home. Large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, candy, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and often eaten as a snack. More recently, fried peanut recipes have emerged – allowing both shell and nut to be eaten. Peanuts are also used in a wide variety of other areas, such as cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints.

Peanut

 

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut