The peanut, sometimes known as the groundnut, is the seed of a leguminous plant native to South America. The plant forms a pod which buries itself in the ground (hence the name groundnut), each pod bearing approximately two nuts. The pods are broken open to extract the nuts, which are roasted to remove their dark skins. They are then salted or left plain.
Peanuts are cultivated in the United States, India, China and West Africa. In the United States, approximately half of the crop is used in the manufacture of peanut butter. Elsewhere, peanuts are grown mainly for their oil which is used in the production of cooking fats and oils.
Peanuts have a high protein content and, like other nuts, form an integral part of a vegetarian diet.