Life Cycle of a Peanut Plant

Written by jenny molberg
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    Life Cycle of a Peanut Plant

    The peanut plant is a legume that is native to South America, but is now planted across the world. Its life cycle is especially interesting because the plant flowers above ground and the fruit, or the peanut, matures underground.

    Peanuts (peanut image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

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    Embryo

    An embryonic peanut seed sprouts a plumule, which eventually becomes the plant's first leaves. The flesh of the seed provides proteins and carbohydrates for the embryonic plant until it becomes a seedling. By planting a raw peanut, you can grow your own peanut plant.

    A peanut plant begins with a raw peanut. (peanut image by Snowball from Fotolia.com)

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    Seedling

    The seedling grows into a relatively short plant (about 18 inches tall), with oval leaves. Small yellow flowers form on the plant close to the ground. When the flowers pollinate themselves and the fertilised ovary swells.

    A field of peanut plants (Peanut plants image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com)

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    The Growth of New Peanuts

    Upon pollination and self-fertilisation, the ovary begins to grow away from the plant, carrying the peanut embryo on its tip. It then curves towards the soil and pushes underground. The embryo becomes a pod with two seeds that will mature, change colour from white to reddish brown, and become a developed peanut.

    Peanuts grow underground (peanut image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

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    The Growth Process

    Above ground, the plant will continue to flower and push embryonic peanuts under ground. It takes about 120 to 150 days for the peanuts to ripen after the plant sprouts. Peanut plants do best in warm weather and sandy soil.

    Fully mature peanuts (peanut image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

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    Harvesting

    Ripe peanuts are then harvested by hand or machine. They are cut at the roots underground, then inverted to keep the peanuts away from the soil and slowly dry. The pods are dried, then threshed, or removed from the rest of the plant.

    Harvested peanuts (peanuts image by Antonio Oquias from Fotolia.com)

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