Origins of pistachio and varieties present in the world

Pistachio is one of the oldest species of dried fruit in history. Its origins date back to the Paleolithic, in fact archaeological finds testify the presence of the pistachio as early as 6760 BC. in the lands of Jordan.

The history of this plant is intertwined with myths, legends and sacred texts: in the 10th century. BC, at the time of the Assyrians, pistachios were considered a privilege reserved only for Queen Sheba and a select few, while in the Bible it is said that in 1802 BC the Pharaoh made an offering of myrrh, honey, almonds and pistachios by the prophet Jacob.

But it was the Arabs, long ago, who guided and increased the cultivation of pistachio in Sicily where they landed in 827. Cultivation began in the lands in the province of Agrigento and Caltanissetta, but only arrived in Bronte around the nineteenth century, where it found the ideal habitat to grow and develop.

It is no coincidence that the terms “frastuca” and “frastucara”, which respectively indicate the fruit and the plant in the Bronte dialect, derive from Arabic. While the term “frastucata”, used by the Bronte elders, indicated a typical sweet made with pistachio.

From Asia Minor, geographical area of ​​origin, Iran, Pakistan, Palestine, Israel, this plant has spread to Morocco, Libya, Turkey, Tunisia and since 1873 it also reached overseas, developing in California, Australia, New Zealand, New Mexico.

Italian production, while representing a small portion, 1% of world production, still represents a niche of excellence.

In the world there are 11 species of Pistacia Vera located mainly in 4 geographical areas, but it is precisely in the Mediterranean basin and in Western Asia that the greatest concentration of this species. Its unique characteristics, such as, for example, the ability to adapt to particularly arid and rocky soils is a fundamental trait that strongly helps attempts to slow down and block desertification.

Besides PV there are other varieties grown in other areas of the world: P terebinthus, which easily adapts to coastal areas, Atlantic P, P. lentiscus, a very widespread species in the Mediterranean basin.

Several studies and researches have been conducted on the Pistacia genus, precisely for its contribution against desertification, and this has led to the establishment of a Pistacia germplasm bank , now kept at the “Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research”.

A fruit with ancient origins and unique characteristics, pistachio has been and remains not only a source of nourishment but also a fundamental part of different cultures, such as the Sicilian one in particular .

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