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Peanut

(Arachis hypogaea)

Other Names: Earthnut, Monkey nut, Manila nut, Cacahučte, Pinda, Erdnuß, Arachide, Amendoim, Maní, Jordnöt

Description:
It is an annual herbaceous plant growing to 30 to 50 cm tall.The leaves are alternate, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet 1 to 7 cm long and 1 to 3 cm broad. The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, 2 to 4 cm across, yellow with reddish veining. After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 3 to 7 cm long containing 2 to 3 (rarely 1 or 4) seeds, which forces its way underground to mature.Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the peanut is a woody, indehiscent legume or pod and not technically a nut.

Uses:
The principal uses are salted, shelled nuts, peanut butter, peanut brittle, candy bars, and nuts that have been roasted in the shell. 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. The primary use of peanut butter is in the home, but 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 typically eaten as a snack. Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavour and burns at a relatively high temperature.Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion of the oil is used in the manufacture of some textile fibers. Peanut shells are put to use in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, and fuel. They are also used to make cellulose (used in rayon and paper) and mucilage (glue). Peanut plant tops are used to make hay. The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is utilized as an animal feed and as a soil fertilizer.

Health:
Peanuts are a rich source of proteins (roughly 30 grams per cup after roasting) and monounsaturated fat. Recent research on peanuts and nuts in general have shown their health benefits. Peanuts are a significant source of resveratrol. A handful of peanuts contains approximately 70 micrograms of this curative substance. Resveratrol is also present in red wine and grapes.

Climate:
Peanuts require atleast 5 months of warm, sunny weather from germination to harvest. In tropical climates farmers can achieve 2 or 3 harvests per year.

Soil:
Peanuts grow best in loose, well-drained soils. Avoid poorly drained, clay type soils. Most peanuts also need lots of calcium in the soil to develop good nuts. Crop rotation is important.

Propagation:
Peanuts are grown from seed. Seeds are lodged just a few centimetres below the soil and the young plants usually emerge within a few weeks of seed planting. They generally begin to bloom about 30 to 40 days after that.

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