PISTACHIO (Heb. בָּטְנָה; botnah), the tree and fruit of the Pistacia vera, a dioecious tree. The female tree produces reddish clusters of nuts with a white shell and a greenish kernel of delicate flavor. The word occurs only once in the Bible, in the plural, (Heb. בָּטְנִים (botnim)), among the "choice fruits of the land" sent by Jacob to the ruler of Egypt (Gen. 43:11). The Samaritan translation of the word is biẓtekin, i.e., pistachio. The Mishnah calls the tree botnah (Shev. 7:5) and its fruit pistakin. They were grown in Israel, and subject to tithes (tj, Ma'as, 1:2, 48d). Two members of its genus, Pistacia palaestina and Pistacia atlantica, are indigenous to Ereẓ Israel but the fruit is hardly edible. It was customary, however, to graft the pistachio onto the branches of these species whose trees and fruit are called botmin (Ar. but'm) in the Talmud. The pistachio tree is similar to the latter, but its nuts taste like the almond, and in consequence the ancients thought it to be a hybrid of these two species (tj, Kil. 1:4, 27a). In modern Hebrew botnim is used to designate peanuts. The identification is erroneous, for not only was the peanut brought from the Americas, but it is not a tree, as botnim definitely are, according to the Mishnah.
Loew, Flora, 1 (1926), 190–200; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 106–7; idem, in: Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 64–65; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 319 (index), s.v. Pistachio and Pistacia. add. bibliography: J. Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 125, 179.
pis·tach·i·o / pəˈstashēˌō/ • n. (pl. -os) 1. (also pistachio nut) the edible pale green seed of an Asian tree. ∎ (also pistachio green) a pale green color. 2. the evergreen tree (Pistacia vera) of the cashew family that produces this nut, with small brownish-green flowers and reddish wrinkled fruit borne in heavy clusters. ORIGIN: late Middle English pistace, based on Greek pistakion, from Old Persian.
pistachio (pĬstăsh´ēō, pĬstä´shēō), tree or shrub (of the genus Pistacia) of the family Anacardiaceae (sumac family). The species that yields the pistachio nut of commerce is P. vera, native to SW Asia. It is now cultivated on a small scale in parts of the SW United States and in many of the warmer parts of Europe and Asia; the trade supply comes largely from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Italy, and Sicily. The "nut," a greenish seed, is eaten salted and is used in making confections. In Syria and some other countries it is more widely used and is traditional at weddings and on other occasions. A flavoring oil is derived from the nuts. Related species include the terebinth, or turpentine tree; the Chinese pistachio, P. chinensis, grown in Florida and California both for ornament and as grafting stock for P. vera; and the mastic (P. lentiscus). Pistachio is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Sapindales, family Anacardiaceae.