By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What are perennial peanuts (Arachis glabrata) and what are they used for? Well, they’re not your average peanut with which most of us are familiar with – they’re actually more ornamental. Read on to learn more about growing perennial peanut plants (also known as ornamental peanuts).
What are Ornamental Peanuts?
Due to the high nutritive value, perennial peanuts are grown primarily for hay and are often used as a grazing crop for livestock. Perennial peanuts are suitable for growing in the warm, non-freezing climates of USDA plant hardiness zones 8b through 11.
In the garden, perennial peanut plants are highly effective as a ground cover and soil stabilizer in sunny areas. Although they don’t produce peanuts, you can eat the yellow blooms, which add a nutty flavor to stir fries and salads.
Using Perennial Peanut for Ground Cover
Plant perennial peanuts in early spring, and by summer, the plants are thick enough to choke out most weeds and other unwanted plants. The bright yellow flowers are an added bonus.
The plants are nipped by winter frost, but if the cold isn’t too severe, they regrow from rhizomes the following spring. In cooler climates, perennial peanuts can be grown as annuals.
Perennial peanuts prefer heat, sunlight and sandy, well-drained soil. The plants, which need at least 30 inches (76 cm.) of rain per year, aren’t suitable for dry climates unless you can irrigate frequently.
Ornamental Peanut Care
As noted above, perennial peanut plants require a considerable amount of water and, although the plants are disease resistant, they may be afflicted by certain viruses when stressed by lack of moisture. As long as you keep the plants well irrigated, very little care is required.
Managing Ornamental Peanuts Grown as Lawn Substitutes
Although perennial peanut plants aren’t seriously invasive, they spread by underground rhizomes and can find their way into areas where they aren’t welcome. If you’re growing ornamental peanuts as a lawn substitute, a plastic, fiberglass, or metal edging will help keep the plant where you want it and out of your flower beds.
Mow every three to four weeks to maintain a turf-like height. Frequent mowing will also stimulate the plant to produce more flowers.
Place stepping stones strategically along well-trod areas; perennial peanut plants don’t tolerate much foot traffic.
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The peanut, also known as the groundnut,  goober (US),  pindar (US)  or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as Arachis hypogaea, is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both small and large commercial producers. It is classified as both a grain legume  and, due to its high oil content, an oil crop.  World annual production of shelled peanuts was 44 million tonnes in 2016, led by China with 38% of the world total. Atypically among legume crop plants, peanut pods develop underground (geocarpy) rather than above ground. With this characteristic in mind, the botanist Carl Linnaeus named the species hypogaea, which means "under the earth".
As a legume, the peanut belongs to the botanical family Fabaceae this is also known as Leguminosae, and commonly known as the bean, or pea, family.  Like most other legumes, peanuts harbor symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules.  This capacity to fix nitrogen means peanuts require less nitrogen-containing fertilizer and also improve soil fertility, making them valuable in crop rotations.
Peanuts are similar in taste and nutritional profile to "tree nuts" such as walnuts and almonds, and, as a culinary nut, are often served in similar ways in Western cuisines. The botanical definition of a nut is "a fruit whose ovary wall becomes hard at maturity". Using this criterion, the peanut is not a nut.  However, peanuts are usually categorized as "nuts" for culinary purposes and in common English more generally.
Peanuts are almost ubiquitous in the U.S. culture: baseball games, circus elephants, cocktail snacks, and the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yet, contrary to what their name implies, technically, peanuts are not nuts. They are, in botanical fact, legumes and are related to other foods in the legume family including peas, lentils, chickpeas and other beans.
Peanuts grow in a very fascinating manner. They actually start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground. The flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut actually matures.
The veined brown shell or pod of the peanut contains two or three peanut kernels. Each oval-shaped kernel or seed is comprised of two off-white lobes that are covered by a brownish-red skin. Peanuts have a hardy, buttery and "nutty" taste.
Peanuts go by various names throughout the world with "goober" or "goober pea" being one of the most popular. Goober is derived from nguba, the name for peanut in the Bantu language spoken in parts of Africa. Peanuts are known scientifically as Arachis hypogaea.
While there are many varieties of peanuts, the ones most commonly found in the marketplace are the Virginia, Spanish and Valencia. Due to their high protein content and chemical profile, peanuts are processed into a variety of different forms, including butter, oil, flour, and flakes.
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4 Surprising Health Benefits of Raw Peanuts
1) Improve Heart Health: Snacking on jumbo raw peanuts is great for your heart and overall health! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (December 1999) showed that diets higher in monounsaturated fats from peanuts and peanut butter reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21% compared to the average American diet, whereas a low-fat diet reduced the risk by only 12%. Over 80 percent of the fat in peanuts comes from the “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
2) Protein Powerhouse: A single one-ounce serving of raw peanuts provides a whopping seven grams of protein. The perfect post-workout snack, peanuts supply the protein your muscles need to recover and repair after exercise.
3) High in Fiber: Raw peanuts are also an excellent source of dietary fiber they pack four grams of fiber per serving, including both forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps control blood sugar levels while insoluble fiber supports the digestive system.
4) Rich in Antioxidants: Consuming jumbo raw peanuts also provides your body with a rich source of antioxidants, which have been shown to protect cells against the oxidative damage linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions. Peanuts contain a specific antioxidant called resveratrol, which is the same kind found in grapes and wine that has been shown to improve heart health and reduce excessive inflammation in the body.
Please note: Due to crop availability we only have Jumbo raw peanuts instead of Super Jumbo.