Arachis is a genus of perennial plants that belong to the family of peanuts, or Leguminosae. There are currently more than 60 recorded species of these plants. The peanut, one species in the Arachis genus, is a widely cultivated food crop. Other species are also cultivated for food, graze for livestock, or as soil conditioners.
Many varieties of beans, peas, and peanuts fall under this category of flowering plants. Countries all over the world cultivate these fruit-bearing perennials as a food source and also for their economic value on the market. Each species has a preference for a specific climate, but these types of plants can naturally adapt to changing environmental conditions.
The blossoms of Arachis plants are distinguished as either male or female. Male flowers are visible bright yellow blooms, while female ones are manifested through small inconspicuous bulbs. Oval-shaped leaves embellish their woody stems, which can grow up to 12 feet (3.6 m) in height. One distinct property of Arachis plants is that their female lower bulbs have the ability to go underground by becoming longer while turning toward the soil.
The peanut, Arachis hypogaea, is a popular species of legume. Other names for peanuts are groundnuts or goobers. They have two to five seeds in every shell that develop underground. Top quality hypogaea grow in tropical countries such as Brazil and its surrounding regions.
Farms in Europe, North America, and Asia find Arachis plants to be effective soil refreshers. Their roots and seeds can replenish the air and the ground by emitting doses of nitrogen so that the nutrients can be stored and later absorbed by the next set of crops. The conversion of nitrogen to the crop-useful compounds of nitrate and ammonia is called nitrogen fixation, which is a natural ability of plants in the Leguminosae family.
Species such as glabrata and pintoi are commonly used as forage legumes for acidic and infertile lands. An invasion of pests such as turnip moths, nutmeg moths, and flame shoulder moths is a threat to these plants, however. Both larvae and mature moths feed on the flowers and seeds of these plants, which is most problematic in the months of April, June, and August.
The oils extracted from the fruits and seeds of these plants are components of some industrial products, such as paint, lubricating oils, and insecticides. Some varieties of beans and peanuts are alternative sources of protein for people observing vegetarian and lactose-free diets. Peanut allergy, however, is a common food allergy, especially among children.