The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Persia (Iran and Iraq) which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sicily, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan (especially in the provinces of Samangan and Badghis), and the United States, specifically in California. The tree produces an important culinary nut. Pistacia vera often is confused with other species in the genus Pistacia that are also known as pistachio. These species can be distinguished from P. vera by their geographic distributions (in the wild) and their nuts. Their nuts are much smaller, have a strong flavor of turpentine, and have a shell that is not hard. Archeologists have found evidence from excavations at Jarmo in northeastern Iraq, that pistachio nuts were a common food as early as 6750 BC.
Contributions by MPF, Chris Capoccia, and Una Smith.