Nuts of distinction

 

Sir, – You pose the question “Are peanuts peas or nuts?” (Aoife McElwain, Magazine, February 23rd).

Indeed, as stated, peanuts are in the pea family, so they are not nuts, but the most interesting feature of peanuts is the fact that they form underground, hence their other name of groundnut.

Once the flower has been pollinated, a stalk elongates and enters the soil, where the peanut pod develops.

Many other “nuts” are botanically not so, as technically a nut is hard shelled and does not split to release the seeds. So walnuts and almonds are not nuts, but drupes (with a fleshy exterior) and acorns are nuts.

Brazil nuts are a capsule, with many seeds inside, with the most wonderful and essential links to orchids and bees for pollination, and mammals for seed distribution, so much so that without a mature and diverse forest there is little chance of pollination.

If you are not confused enough, a banana is actually a berry. Bon appetit! – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN BUTLER,

Palmerstown,

Dublin 20.