Are Pistachios Tree Nuts? Or Would It Be Classified As A Peanut?

Oluniyi Akande
Jan 24, 2024 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Oct 09, 2021
Bowl with pistachios on a wooden table.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

The pistachio, a type of tree nut, belongs to the botanical family of Anacardiaceae, which is also known as the cashew family.

A pistachio tree is small in appearance and its seeds are enclosed in soft shells. Many people eat pistachios as they are high in nutrition.

However, a tree nut allergy is a very common phenomenon and a lot of people are allergic to pistachios. Such people should avoid the consumption of pistachios as food. Examples of other tree nuts are walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts. All these nuts are used as food and in popular dishes. Unlike peanuts, which are legumes growing underground, tree nuts grow on trees. However, in both cases, the fruit encloses the edible seed.

If you like reading this article, you can also check out our are trees plants andare seeds alive!

Are cashews and pistachios considered tree nuts, if yes why?

There are certain differences between true nuts, like the chestnut, and tree nuts. One of the major differences is that, unlike true nuts, tree nuts are basically categorized as drupes. Drupe, which is a botanical term, refers to fruits that have a fleshy outer side and seed with shell covering on the inside. The pistachios we consume are actually this seed.

To answer the question as to whether pistachios are tree nuts or not, the answer is yes, pistachios are tree nuts. There is a wide range of tree nuts that are enjoyed by people all over the globe. These tree nuts include cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, the almond, pine nuts, and our beloved pistachios.

The pistachio is also known by its botanical name Pistacia vera and is a very common nut that is said to have its origin in the Middle East and Asia. This nut belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae, a member of the cashew family. All across the world, young natural green seeds are obtained which are then roasted and they find their spot in culinary dishes owing to their beautiful taste and their high value in terms of nutrition. The United States produces the highest amount of pistachio nuts in the world.

Pistachio, Walnut, And Other Tree Nuts

There are several families incorporated in botanical taxonomy. Out of them, there are quite a few tree nut families like Betulaceae, Proteaceae, Juglandaceae, and Pinaceae.

Pistachios: Pistachios (Pistacia vera) are tree nuts belonging to the cashew family. Pistachio trees are common around the world and take around 15 years to fully develop into perfect edible seeds. The skin of the pistachio acts as the ovary, unlike fruits, with the skin wall of each nut being different based on their shapes and sizes. Pistachios are known to have a soft shell.

Walnuts: Walnuts are also edible drupes and not true botanical nuts. Interestingly, during the Byzantine period, a walnut was called a royal nut. The walnut seed has a hard outer shell. The outer shells of each walnut enclose the kernels, which have a brown seed coat around them. These seed coats contain antioxidants which prevent the walnut from becoming rancid.

Pecans: Pecans originate from a species of hickory trees. These seeds or tree nuts are native to southern parts of the United States and northern Mexico. A pecan nut contains a ton of health benefits. It is said to be free of sodium and cholesterol and contains low carbohydrates while being packed with protein. These nuts are quite appropriate for eating by those who are on a diet or at risk of diseases.

Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts are quite popular since they form a part of the culinary world. Almost 70% of hazelnuts are produced by Turkey, making them the largest producer of hazelnuts. The seed kernels of hazelnuts are edible in nature. The seed itself has a thin skin which has a dark brown shade. These nuts contain a high amount of protein, vitamin E, and some other essential nutrients.

Almonds: Belonging to the Rosaceae family, the almond tree is native to Iran and some other neighboring countries. Historically, almonds were domesticated as fruit trees quite early on because it was easy to grow an almond tree from its seed, unlike a pistachio tree which requires much more effort. The shell outside the seeds of almonds are woody in appearance and quite hard. The protein content in almonds is 21%, making them a significantly healthy tree nut for eating.

Nuts mix placed on table.

Can you be allergic to most tree nuts but not pistachios?

Tree nut allergies are considered to be common food allergies in both adults and children. However, it is not always necessary that a person is allergic to all tree nuts. If you are allergic to pistachio nuts, it isn't necessary that you would be allergic to a Brazil nut or pine nut, and vice versa.

That being said, being allergic to a pistachio could mean you should also avoid cashews, as both belong to the same family. In general, being allergic to one type of tree nut does increase the risk of being allergic to other types because they do contain some similar components. Common allergic reactions related to tree nuts are watery eyes, scratchy throat, and itching. However, if these allergies develop into something severe, it could include abdominal pain, nausea, anaphylaxis, and difficulty in breathing. While those with a tree nut allergy tend to avoid consuming most tree nuts, a lot of foods and skincare products contain tree nuts as an ingredient. It is always safe to check the labels of any such goods before consuming or using them

Are pistachios tree nuts or legumes?

Legumes are basically beans, while pistachios are best described as seeds. While there are quite a few differences between pistachios and legumes (like peanuts), there are a few similarities, as well.

The botanical term legume is used to describe plants with edible seeds, much like tree nuts. However, in legumes, the seeds are placed inside fleshy coverings called pods, which are found on the ground. Each pod splits on its own when the legume is ready for harvesting. Pods are not reported in pistachios or other tree nuts which are retrieved from trees. That being said, peanuts are quite structurally similar to tree nuts and have a similar taste as well. From a nutritional point of view, there is quite some overlap between legumes and pistachios. Legumes, like peanuts, aid in weight loss and make for great diet food, just like pistachios. Both peanuts and tree nuts are loaded with a variety of nutrients, including vitamins and proteins.

In regards to food allergies, someone with a peanut allergy will not by default be allergic to pistachio nuts or have any other kind of tree nut allergy. This is because the proteins present in legumes and tree nuts are different.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are pistachios tree nuts then why not take a look at our pumpkins fruit, or are truffles mushrooms

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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