pistachio (pĭstăshˈēō, pĭstäˈshēō) [key], 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.