Arachis hypogaea

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Arachis hypogaea is commonly called the peanut. Ground nut, monkey nut, nzungu (shona), amazambane (ndebele). It is native to South America.


It is a low growing bushy annual, cultivated since ancient times. Leaves alternate, with two pairs of leaflets. The pods ripen below ground.
They are often planted between maize or millet rows, just after the first rains, and are ripening May to June. Main production areas are Mutoko, Murewa and Masvingo. [1]

Preparation and use

Pods are dried and shelled. And made into many dishes.


  • Peanut butter / dovi (sh).

Shelled peanuts are roasted and ground.

  • To flavour vegetables and mushrooms. Pounded, ground (made into peanut butter) and added just before cooking is finished.
  • Rupiza (sh). A thick soup made of beans or cowpeas, with peanuts ground to a coarse meal.
  • Roasted and with skins removed, they are pounded to meal wtih a little salt and water. Sundried, they can be stored for later cooking flavouring or food for a journey.
  • Boiled as a vegetable.
  • Pounded nuts added to fine gruel of finger millet and allowed to stand overnight, to make a sweet drink.
  • Boiled in their pods. Nuts extracted and served as a vegetable.
  • Ground nuts mixed with upfu, pounded together and mixed with water to form a flat cake, boiled, baked or fried.
  • The leaves may be boiled as a vegetable.

Health / Medicinal

An important source of protein and oil. [2]


Peanuts are the world's largest source of vegetable oil, after soya beans. They are the main constituent of margarine. Stems and leaves may be used for winter stockfeed. 40 percent of the kernels are oil.

In 1987, Zimbabwe was self-sufficient in edible oils. An estimated 200 000ha were under ground nut cultivation, although deliveries to the GMB were under 1000 tonnes per annum (the bulk going to home consumption or local markets). [3]

Further reading

Flora of Zimbabwe [1]
Evaluating agronomic performance of new short season groundnut (Arachis hypogea) varieties under rain fed conditions. [2]

  1. [Mary Akers (ed.), Encyclopaedia Rhodesia] (The College Press, Salisbury, 1973) Retrieved 8 August 2019"
  2. [Margaret Tredgold, Food Plants of Zimbabwe; with old and new ways of preparation] (Mambo Press, Gweru, 1986) Retrieved 6 January 2021"
  3. [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019