Reference to the pistachio tree is mentioned in the bible's Old Testament and has been cultivated for over 7000 years.
The United States is the second largest producer of pistachio nuts in the world, producing over 346 million pounds of pistachios per annum.
Pistachio Tree Facts and Information on Pistachio Trees
Here is some general information on the pistachio tree.
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree native to regions of Syria, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India and possibly Afghanistan (especially in the provinces of Samangan and Badghis). The tree produces an important culinary nut.
Pistachio is a desert plant, and is highly tolerant of saline soil. It has been reported to grow well when irrigated with water having 3,000 to 4,000 ppm of soluble salts. Pistachio trees are fairly hardy in the right conditions, and can survive temperatures ranging between minus 10 degrees celsius (14 degrees fahrenheit) in winter and 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit) in summer. They need a sunny position and well-drained soil. Pistachio trees do poorly in conditions of high humidity, and are susceptible to root rot in winter if they get too much water and the soil is not sufficiently free draining. Long hot summers are required for proper ripening of the fruit.
The bush grows up to 10 meters (30 ft) tall. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) long. The plants are dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual, and borne in panicles.
The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed, which is the edible portion. The seed, commonly thought of as a nut, is a culinary nut, not a botanical nut. The fruit has a hard, whitish exterior shell. The seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh, with a distinctive flavor. When the fruit ripens, the shell changes from green to an autumnal yellow/red and abruptly splits part way open. This is known as dehiscence, and happens with an audible pop. The splitting open is a trait that has been selected by humans. Commercial cultivars vary in how consistently they split open.
Each pistachio tree averages around 50 kg of seeds, or around 50,000, every two years.
The trees are planted in orchards, and take approximately seven to ten years to reach significant production. Production is alternate bearing or biennial bearing, meaning the harvest is heavier in alternate years. Peak production is reached at approximately 20 years. Trees are usually pruned to size to make the harvest easier. One male tree produces enough pollen for eight to twelve nut-bearing females. Harvesting in the United States is often accomplished by using shaking equipment to shake the nuts off the tree.
Pistachio nuts in and out of the shellPistachio trees are vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases. Among these is infection by the fungus Botryosphaeria. This fungus causes panicle and shoot blight (i.e., kills flowers and young shoots), and can damage entire pistachio orchards.
The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava or biscotti and cold cuts such as mortadella. Americans make pistachio salad, which includes fresh pistachios or pistachio pudding, whipped cream, canned fruit and sometimes cottage cheese or marshmallows.
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