Leguminosae Arachis hypogaea L.
Source: Magness et al. 1971
The peanut plant is procumbent or semi-erect, with rather small compound-pinnate, smooth leaves. The seeds are enclosed in a rather fibrous pod. After the flowers are pollinated a short, thick stem at the flower base, termed gynophore, grows downward and penetrates into the soil, so the fruiting body develops entirely underground. Seeds, the edible part, are 1 to 4 per pod, 0.25 - to 0.75 -inch long and vary from near globose to elongated. In harvesting, the entire plant with adhering seed pods is lifted from the soil, mainly mechanically, dried in windrows or stacks, then threshed to remove the seeds.
The peanut is grown mainly for food and as a source of edible oil, but is also used as forage. When the plants with adhering seeds or nuts are harvested they are stacked to dry before threshing. In dry areas this may be on the ground; but in humid areas, where most are grown in this country, they are stacked around poles with cross pieces to hold the plants off the ground. After threshing to remove the seed pods the straw or hay is valuable livestock feed. The runner varieties of peanuts are sometimes planted to be used as hog feed, in which case hogs are turned into the fields and root out the seeds, consuming both seeds and tops.
Production in U.S.: About 1,500,000 acres grown; about 1,250,000 tons of nuts.
Use: Seeds roasted and eaten directly or in confections and baked goods; ground for peanut butter; crushed for oil. Tops of plants, hulls, and cake from oil extraction used for livestock feed.
Parts of plants consumed: Seeds only for food; tops and hulls for feed.