Arachis hypogaea Linn. Leguminosae. Earth Nut. Earth Almond. Goober. Grass Nut. Ground Nut. Peanut. Pindar.
Tropical America. This plant is now under cultivation in warm climates for the seeds which are largely eaten as nuts, and from which an oil is extracted to be used as a substitute for olive oil to which it is equal in quality. Although now only under field cultivation in America, yet, in 1806, McMahon included this plant among kitchen-garden esculents. For a long time, writers on botany were uncertain whether the peanut was a native of Africa or of America, but, since Squier has found this seed in jars taken from the mummy graves of Peru, the question of its American origin seems settled. The first writer who notes it, is Oviedo in his Cronica de las Indias, who says "the Indians cultivate very much the fruit mani." Before this, the French colonists, sent in 1555 to the Brazilian coast, became acquainted with it under the name of mandobi.
The peanut was figured by Laet, 1625, and by Marcgravius, 1648, as the anchic of the Peruvians, the mani of the Spaniards. It seems to be mentioned by Garcilasso de la Vega, 1609, as being raised by the Indians under the name, ynchic. The Spaniards call it mani but all the names, he observes, which the Spaniards give to the fruits and vegetables of Peru belong to the language of the Antilles. The fruit is raised underground, he says, and "is very like marrow and has the taste of almonds." Marcgravius, 1648, and Piso, 1658, describe and figure the plant, under the name of mandubi, as common and indigenous in Brazil. They cite Monardes, an author late in the sixteenth century, as having found it in Peru with a different name, anchic. Father Merolla, 1682, under the name of mandois, describes a vegetable of Congo which grows "three or four together like vetches but underground and are about the bigness of an ordinary olive. From these milk is extracted like to that drawn from almonds." This may be the peanut. In China, especially in Kwangtung, peanuts are grown in large quantities and their consumption by the people is very great. The peanut was included among garden plants by McMahon, 1806; Burr, 1863, describes three varieties; and Jefferson speaks of its culture in Virginia in 1781. Its culture was introduced into France in 1802, and the peanut was described among pot-herbs by Noisette, 1829.