A peanut grows underground right? So it doesn’t come from a flower. But it has all the characteristics of other nuts that do come from flowers. Doesn’t it even have an embryo like other nuts? I’ve eaten these things all my life, even used them in my science classes to show the characteristics of a seed but now it just occured to me that this cannot be a true seed. Can it?
Start with wikipedia. A peanut is a legume, not a nut. That may explain your difficulty with it. For the record, peanuts do grow underground. I don’t know about the embryo part.
As for a true seed: I’m unclear what you mean by that, but the actual peanut that you eat (after you’ve popped it out of the shell) is a seed that can be used to grow a new peanut plant.
Great! So a peanut does come from a flower. Cool! I guess this is a great adaptation to prevent the nut from being eaten.
Well, if the adaptation is supposed to keep the nut from being eaten, I wouldn’t say that it’s working out real well for them . . .
It may just be a good way to put the seed in a good place to germinate.
Rather then start a new thread I’ll throw a related Highjack in.
I’ve seen shelled peanuts in the store being sold as ‘salted’ peanuts. If they are still in the shell how do they salt them?
They salt the shell. Ah, fighting ignorance!
They’re boiled in salted water.
And the vanilla bean is actually the fruit of an orchid.
I grew them once in Wisconsin. They do grow here. I found it very interesting to see the plant flower above ground, and then burry it’s self to mature. I wonder if it developed that mechanism to protect the seed from being eaten or to plant it for next year?
You’re very welcome - it’s flattering when someone remembers something like this.
In terms of survival of the peanut genome, they are doing pretty well by being edible, because human cultivate lots of peanuts. Any plant or animal that makes itself useful to humans that way is going to be highly successful in the natural selection battle: the individual plants/animals get eaten (or converted to cloth, oil, building materials, etc.), but the species flourishes. That’s because they get given lots of land to grow on, and are protected from diseases and predators.
This is a bit afield from the original question, but since we’re talking about evolutionary fitness (and I’m bored with Linux clusters) consider the following three points:
[ol][li]While natural selection does sometimes result in a co-dependent relationship in which fruits/nectar are consumed in order to propagate the species, [/li]in domesticated plants this is overshadowed by selective breeding and culling.
[li]While symbiotism with a successful species can be a good strategy, it ultimately links reproductive success to the fate of the host/cooperative species. Should humanity die off, or worse we elect (for some reason) to stop eating peanuts, the plant would cease to be cultivated.[/li][li]Domestic species are generally much less hardy than their wild predecessors and counterparts. Often, they can’t even propagate without human intervention, and use an enormous amount of resources that are not strictly for their own benefit; compare the size of wild apples to that of cultivated species, or the domestic pig to a wild boar. The benefit is that they become more appealing to the cultivator; however, should they fail to be protected and cultivated they’ll almost certainly lose out in competation with natural species, and their relative genetic uniformity makes them more subject to disease and parasitism.[/ol][/li]Being a domestic food crop is a successful gene-centric propagation strategy in the near term–if you don’t mind the cross-breeding and more recently direct modification of the genome–but it ultimately weakens the organism’s ability to fend in an open, uncontrolled environment.
Well, I can just hope that more math questions come in, they get forwarded to me, I eventually get promoted from guest contributor to being in charge of math, and there’s something worth people remembering from me.
Of course, I’m sure the mailbag has a lot more nuts than math questions, but…
I would say that selective breeding and culling are just another part of natural selection. We’re just one more part of the environment which is shaping peanuts, albeit a very significant part. Just as predation is a risk that faces many species, and they evolve strategies (like toxins or thorns) to avoid predation, so culling is a risk that faces peanuts, and they evolve strategies (like tasting good or producing large fruit) to avoid culling.
Of course, that’s only true for the population being cultivated. A wild population could still exist, and would not undergo the genetic changes happening in the population being selected for cultivation.
The distinction is that thereis a conscious intent which both accelerates the process and amplifies one small set of characteristics by intentionally altering or moderating the environment in which the species grows (i.e. irrigation, pesticides), removing members with undesireable characteristics, and inbreeding or crossbreeding members with desired characteristics (i.e. exaggerated fruit size, accelerated growth rate). We often use intentionality as a metaphor for selection (i.e. “they evolve strategies”) but in artificial selection the consiousness is real, not allegorical. While the overall process of adaptation is the same–a population develops the characteristics that are most successful for reproduction (or, if you’re a gene-centrist, genes that provide the greatest advantage for the carrier tends to be most successfully propagated)–the rate and vector of progression in artificial selection is much faster and more direct than an analogous change for natural selection.
Absolutely…an in nature, the wild population will nearly always survive over the domesticated population.
No one mentioned that peanuts are not the RIGHT name. Goober Peas are the correct name for the so called “Peanuts.”