Peanut (also called GROUNDNUT, EARTHNUT, OR
GOOBER), common name for an annual warm-season plant of the
legume family, that grow about 60 cm tall, and for its seeds.
Peanuts originated in South America, probably in Brazil, and
have been cultivated since ancient times by Native Americans.
The peanut was at an early time introduced into the Old World
tropics. India, China, West Africa, and the U.S. have become the
largest commercial producers of peanuts.
Peanut growing requires at least five months of warm weather
with rainfall (or irrigation equivalent) of 600 mm or more
during the growing season. In Asia the peanut is grown under
irrigation. The peanut is grown mainly for its edible oil,
except in the U.S., where it is produced for grinding into
peanut butter (half the harvested crop); for roasted, salted
nuts; and for use in candy and bakery products. A small
percentage of the U.S. crop is crushed for oil.
Peanuts are nutritious and high in energy protein and minerals.
The seeds contain 40 to 50 percent oil and 20 to 30 percent
protein, and they are an excellent source of B vitamins.