The pistachio tree is native to western Asia, from Syria to the Caucasus and Afghanistan. Archaeological evidence in Turkey indicate the nuts were being used for food as early as 7,000 B.C. The pistachio was introduced to Italy from Syria early in the first century A.D. Subsequently its cultivation spread to other Mediterranean countries.
The tree was first introduced into the United States in 1854 by Charles Mason, who distributed seed for experimental plantings in California, Texas and some southern states. In 1875 a few small pistachio trees, imported from France were planted in Sonoma, Calif.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW:
- Pistachio nuts are a member of the cashew family and are closely related to mangos, sumac, and even poison ivy.
- Iran produces more pistachios than any other country in the world, with over 200,000 tons per year.
- In Asia, they are referred to as “Green Almonds” and “The Happy Nut” . In Iran, they are called “The Smiling Nut”.
- Male pistachio trees are alternate bearing, meaning they produce heavier crops every other year.
- All pistachio shells are beige in color. Many companies dye inferior nuts red or green.