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Delicacy of Peanuts


Organic Peanuts: Arrangement to the Delicacy of the Emperor of the Northern Song

Many places in China have a tradition of attaching the birthplace of various characters, the birthplace of food, and so on into stories to highlight the historical and cultural value of a certain historical site or specialty. There are some stories that no one goes to verify, just talk about them. Some stories are turned into jokes when they have been digging through the graves of their ancestors. Organic Peanut encountered this once.


When the official Weibo account of Xin'an Evening News under the Anhui Daily Newspaper Group published an introduction to Anhui special product Lu'an Xuji peanut candy (Lu'an is a place in western Anhui When Xuji is a town in Yu’an District, Lu’an City)’s Weibo, people are afraid the editor mainly just regards the release of this Weibo as part of his work. This Weibo is linked to the electronic version of a report published in the "Xin'an Evening News", which said:

As a professional gourmet expert, Peng Jiankun, vice president of Lu'an Culinary Association, knows the history of Xuji Peanut Candy very well. "According to legend, in the Northern Song Dynasty, during a private visit to Bianliang Weifu, Song Huizong found a kind of candy that was particularly good. 

After asking, he found out that it was Lu'an Xuji peanut candy, and then it spread. By the Ming Dynasty, Xuji peanut candy had been Hand-picked as a tribute." Peng Jiankun said, peanut candy has a history of nearly a thousand years.


Delicacy of Peanuts

As long as you have a little understanding of the origins and legends of various local cuisines, you will feel that this story is familiar. 

It’s no wonder that, as a part of folk culture, the routines of local food legends (called "motif" in anthropological terms) are nothing more than a few:

First, it is clumsy-because it appears when making other foods. Mistakes, Yi Dazheng created a new delicacy.

Secondly, the chicken and dog ascendant type because someone likes a certain delicacy when he was humble, this type of delicacy became famous after he became famous.

Thirdly, the expert looking down type.

It can be divided into two motifs: one, a certain person accidentally ran into a certain food while traveling the country

Second, a certain person was temporarily frustrated or accidentally ran into a certain food while fleeing. 

There are only a few experts who often come to accompany food legends, such as Su Shi, Zhu Yuanzhang, Qianlong, and Cixi. 

In contrast, the story of Lu'an Xuji Peanut Candy is attached to Song Huizong, which is quite new.


After the microblog of Xin'an Evening News was released, it was reprinted about 30 times that day. 

It was reprinted by "Lu'an Focus" again on July 20, and then it went silent for granted. 

However, at 0:42 am on November 18th, a person named "Laser A" suddenly reposted it, and at the same time commented: 

"Make an advertisement, the traditional food of Han nationality-peanut candy!" and circled 4 people. One of them is Mei Xinyu who is certified as a "scholar and columnist" on Weibo. 

The comment of "Laser A" obviously has a certain nationalistic color, and the note that Mei Xinyu added when forwarding at 8:18 is even more naked: "Broadcast it. For the buyer, its biggest advantage is personal.” 

As long as you turn to a few pages of Mei Xinyu’s Weibo, his words for a certain group of people speak for themselves.

Mei Xinyu's nationalism is largely based on anti-religion, so he often interacts with another professor of Harbin Institute of Technology who is an atheist on Weibo, Tai Kun. But Tai Kun also belongs to the popular science camp, so when he reposted Mei Xinyu's Weibo at 8:33, he commented ironically:

 "If I edit, I will edit Taizu Song. After Huizong ate the peanut candy, he was taken captive to us. This Gada is here to write poems.” 

In this way, after the relay of nationalism, atheism, and popular science camps, at 9:55, the journalist of Sanlian Life Weekly and popular science writer Tumotuo directly forwarded the report of Xin'an Evening News. 

The original Weibo commented: "Peanuts originated in the Americas, and they were introduced to China in the Ming Dynasty." By this time, the Weibo was finally "detonated". 

As of 15:15 in the afternoon, the number of forwardings has reached 1821, and most people are laughing at the absurdity of this peanut candy legend. Poor Peanut was involved in the conflict of political views on the Internet.


Some people are also arguing that peanuts may originate in China, not in America. Fantasy literature writer Jiang Nan said when reposting: 

"So many people who reposted this Weibo, but no one to verify the origin of peanuts.

In fact, some people think that China is also one of the origin countries of peanuts. This argument does not seem to be complete. Conclusion." 

Many people have found various archaeological and documentary evidence on the Internet, trying to support the theory of peanut's native origin (or at least the theory of Old World origin). 

Compared with the clamor of nationalism and regional discrimination, some people are willing to pay attention to the scientific issue of the origin of peanuts, which is already considered commendable. 

In the final analysis, however, the issue of whether peanuts originated in China is still controversial today is still inseparable from the blind nationalist sentiment in the 1960s and 1970s.


Molecular biological evidence shows that peanuts are undoubtedly native to South America

Peanut (scientific name Arachis hypogaea) is the correct Chinese name of Arachis hypogaea (the origin of this name will be explained below), which is an annual herbaceous plant of the leguminous Arachis. 

There were originally more than 20 species of Arachis, but in 1994, Argentine agronomist A. 

Krapovickas, who had studied peanuts all his life, and his collaborators published dozens of new species at once, and there have been new species since then published, so that the number of species in the whole genus has increased to more than 80 species today.

The taxonomic position of Arachis in Leguminosae

Let us gradually investigate the origin of peanuts from big to small. In the world's third largest family of legumes, the genus Arachis belongs to the "Dalbergieae" (Dalbergieae). 

The Dalbergia family can be divided into 3 branches, two of which are Pterocarpus clade and Dalbergia clade. Peanuts belong to the red sandalwood branch. 

The red sandalwood branch can be further divided into 5 small branches. At this point, the red sandalwood genus (Pterocarpus), which contains a variety of redwood species, is separated from the Arachis. 

In the branch where Arachis is located, except for the genus Stylosanthes, which is distributed in tropical regions of Africa and Asia (but still not in China), the other genera are limited to the New World, and most of them are only distributed In South America. This has given us an impression: peanuts are unlikely to be of Chinese origin.


As far as more than 80 species of Arachis have been discovered, they are all produced in South America, centered on southwestern Brazil. The climate in this area is relatively dry and the wind is strong. As a result, Arachis has evolved a series of adaptable traits, including low creeping plants, sandy growth, and the most well-known elongation of the ovary stalk after anthesis to insert the young fruit into the soil. 

The strange habit that makes it mature underground (ecology calls it "underground firmness" geocarpy). Such a combination of traits may be difficult to evolve in the humid habitats of southern China or Southeast Asia.


Of course, the most decisive evidence is that in April 2014, the international academic community completed the complete sequencing of the peanut genome, which finally proved that the peanut species itself is indeed a species of hybrid origin.

One of its two parents is now commonly used in horticulture. The vine peanut (Arachis duranensis) and the other is the Tarija peanut (Arachis ipaensis), both of which originate from Bolivia and Paraguay to northern Argentina. About 4000 to 6000 years ago, these two species crossed naturally in northern Argentina and formed the ancestor of today's peanuts. This means that if the peanut originated in other places, then that place must also have its two ancestor species distributed at the same time. It can be imagined that this possibility is basically zero. 

The molecular biology analysis of cultivated peanuts also shows that the oldest peanut varieties are distributed in Bolivia and Paraguay. These molecular biological evidences are generally consistent with archaeological evidences (of course, the peanut remnants dated 7600 years ago found in Peru now seem to be more likely to be the seeds of some wild arachis).

One of the ancestors of peanut, Arachis duranensis, has been developed as a ground cover.


All the above-mentioned evidences show that peanuts are native to South America, which is an unquestionable conclusion in the biological community. As a result, peanuts were introduced to China only after European navigators rediscovered the Americas at the end of the 15th century.


Is the ancient Chinese "peanut" evidence reliable?

Of course, before molecular biology techniques are widely used to solve problems such as the origin of crops, there are indeed some people in China and even in the world of agricultural history who suspect that peanuts existed in China before the "Era of Great Navigation." They found several pieces of evidence from documents and archaeological discoveries, the main ones being:


1. In the Western Jin Dynasty Jihan's "Southern Grass and Trees", there is a "chitose", which is recorded as: "Chitose, there are vines unearthed, and the seeds are under the roots. The beards are green and intertwined like weaving. Each child has more than 200 buds.

The shell is blue-yellow, the shell is like a chestnut, and the taste is the same. The dry shell and the flesh are separated, shaking, like nutmeg. Out of the cochin." The plant described in it is very similar to peanuts.


Second, Tang Duancheng's "Youyang Miscellany" once recorded: 

"There is another kind that is shaped like a fragrant taro, and it grows vines. 

The artist sets up a small shed to make the vines, and the flowers bloom and fall on the soil, and the knots are like fragrant taro, also known as peanuts."


3. Peanuts are also mentioned in Jia Ming's "Diet Instructions" in the Yuan Dynasty. 

The original text reads: 

"Arachis: sweet and slightly bitter, flat in nature. It is shaped like a fragrant taro. Children eat too much, and stagnation is difficult to eliminate. Recently, a kind of groundnut was discovered. 

The strangely named longevity fruit, tastes bitter and sweet, cold in nature, shaped like a bean pod, seeds such as lotus meat, congenital cucumber and duck egg food, often killing people. Eating more can lead to impotence."


4. In the 1950s, grains of charred plants were unearthed successively at Qianshanyang Site in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province and Shanbei Site in Xiushui, Jiangxi (both dating from the late Neolithic period about 4000 years ago), which were identified as peanuts.


5. In 1981, Zouwei Commune in Shuangqiao Village, Binyang, Guangxi also unearthed "Peanut Fossils", and the relevant photos were also published in the second issue of Agricultural Archaeology that year.


6. In 1990, some seeds were unearthed in Hanyang Tomb in Xianyang, Shaanxi, and they were identified as peanuts in 2007.


It is based on these evidences that "peanuts are native to China" has become an influential viewpoint in the Chinese agricultural historian in the 1960s and 1970s. Affected by this, there were still many agricultural history-related books and magazines insisting that China was the origin (or at least one of the origins) of peanuts until the 1980s and 1990s. 

After copying various professional and non-professional articles, today's Chinese Internet is naturally full of similar statements, which have caused great misleading to people who are not familiar with related fields.


However, today, when the whole peanut genome has been determined, we will examine these few pieces of "evidence" that have been obtained after decades of intensive research. 

We have to say that their convincing power is too weak. You Xiuling, a famous agricultural historian, doesn't believe these evidences. In an article in 1997, he questioned the argument that peanuts originated in China. 

In addition to the fact that peanut resources are the most diverse in South America, he also put forward several rebuttals, the most powerful of which is if Peanuts have been cultivated continuously from prehistoric times through the Han, Western Jin, and Tang dynasties to the Yuan dynasty, indicating that it must be a very popular crop, and it should have been widely spread throughout the country and penetrated into the folk culture (described below How grand peanuts were treated in the Qing Dynasty). 

But why do agricultural books like "Qi Min Yao Shu" never mention it, and no stronger evidence can be found in other ancient books to prove its existence?


Even if this kind of general logic is not difficult to refute, these "evidences" themselves are not very much subject to scrutiny. First, the literature records are vague and ambiguous, so the literature evidence is often unreliable. 

The "Thousands of Years" in "Southern Plants and Trees" is quite different from peanuts, and "their sons have more than 200 seeds per flower" is the biggest loophole. The meaning of "Youyang Zazu" is more vague. 

The key point is that the so-called "knot" does not necessarily mean fruiting, but it can also refer to the roots and tubers formed underground. According to the plants aliased as "Fragrant Taro" today, the "peanuts" mentioned in "Youyang Miscellaneous Cu" are more likely to be the legumes Apios fortunei (scientific name Apios fortunei) or Huang Du (scientific name Dioscorea bulbifera) of the Dioscoreaceae family. 

As for the "Instructions on Diet", it has been verified by people today that it is likely to be a fake book by the people of the Qing dynasty. 

The content is almost copied from the work of the same name by Zhu Benzhong (Zhu Tailai) in the early Qing Dynasty, and the real peanuts have of course been passed on. Entered China.

The "peanut" in "Youyang Zazu" may be Huang Du (Dioscorea bulbifera) (Source:


Although it has been difficult to judge what the plants described in the crude language of the previous literature are from ancient times to the present, this does not prevent the names such as "Chitose" and "(Fall) Peanut" from being re-used by future generations, resulting in daily language A very common phenomenon of foreign bodies with the same name in biological names. 

After all, the meaning of "groundnut" is nothing more than "the flower grows (in the soil)". It is a summary of the time when the edible part of the underground is excavated. 

As for whether the "seed" is a fruit or a tuber or tuber , In the eyes of the ancients, is irrelevant. One of the most interesting examples is the record of Chen Haozi from the Qing Dynasty in Hua Jing: 

"The peanut is a fragrant taro, which grows from vines. 

The leaves bloom with small white flowers, and the flowers fall on the ground, and the roots become fruit. Liansi drags the soil into the soil. , Countless, digging and cooking in winter. Sweet and delicious, Nanzhe is prolific. "The plant described here is probably a potato (potato) of the Solanaceae family. 

Since even potatoes meet the definition of "peanuts", what reason do we have to believe that "(ground) peanuts" in ancient books must refer to today's peanuts?


The literature is insufficient, so archaeological evidence is always reliable, right? Not at all. Among the archaeological evidence listed above, after the evidence from Jiangxi and Zhejiang was published, it was questioned by the botanical and archaeological circles. 

The evidence in Guangxi was overturned by the discoverer himself in the second year, because further research revealed that the so-called "peanut fossils" were actually pottery crafts. In this way, the only specimen from Shaanxi that has not been questioned becomes a solitary evidence. 

It should be supplemented that when identifying the grains of plants that have been carbonized, the reliability of the results is highly dependent on the appraiser's breadth of knowledge about the morphology of existing plant grains. 

If an appraiser knows the seeds of 1,000 kinds of legumes, he might not dare to say with certainty that a small, black bean that has been thousands of years old must be a peanut; but if he only knows 10 kinds of beans, he may be timid. Yong, made a firm conclusion.


Now there are two opinions before you: one starts from the real "iron proof" of molecular biology, and confirms that peanuts originated in South America, and it was introduced to China in the Ming Dynasty.

The other is archaeological evidence and more. The inadequate documentary evidence is a treasure, and it is assumed that peanuts are either native to China or surrounding areas, or have been introduced from South America in prehistoric times. 

Technically / medically reviewed by:

Name: Ramona Khan

Education: Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics

Experience: 11 Years of experience as a nutritionist / dietician

[ S H A R E in public interest > > 


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