Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Amazing Pastachio

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Agriculture, Society, Culture, Nature, Sustainability, History, Science & Society

Ed Hessler

Lee Lawrence continues her Innovation & Ingenuity series for the July / August issue of  Aramco World with a story about pistachio nuts whose existnece is owed some very early innovation and ingenuity..

The illustrated story is based on work at the Archaeobotany Research Group, Max Planck Institute.

Some basics about pistachios (Pistachia vera

--They are not tree nuts but fruit seeds.

--The only tree nut with male and female trees. 

--Are wind pollinated with male and female flowers "sometimes (blooming) out of sync."

 --Do not breed true to type, i.e., share the same characteristics as their parents so they first appeared randomly.

--The early farmers and orchardists clearly cherished them because they learned to use artificial pollination to ensure pollination of parental types. This occurred in Mesopotamia as early as the"ninth-century BCE".

--Tree maturation takes 15 to 20 years with variable yearly yields of  "about 9 to 20 kilograms of nuts. By comparison almond trees yield 23 to 30 kilos, and a walnut gives up to 30 to 160." 

Lee Lawrence includes an overview of grafting pistachio trees and a description of how archeobotanists are filling in the details of this remarkable innovation. including its early economics.

As she closes her essay Ms. Lawrence  writes "Who can resist a good nut whose shell splits into a smile when ripe?"  It does look like a smile something I never noticed.
It may be read here.  It has a great title part of which she incorporates into her last sentence.

Re archeobotany and archaebotany. The former is the spelling in Ms. Lawrence's essay; the latter is the way it is spelled in English at the Max Planck Institute. Both are correct. So I kept both.
And Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has a feature on the Pistachio Nebula, never noted until recently when an amateur astronomer found it. Includes a short explanation as well. 

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