The peanut originates in South America. The Portuguese found it already being cultivated in Brazil. Gabriel Soares de Sousa states that «it is something unknown expect in Brazil the (peanut) are produced underground, where they are planted by hand at a plan's breadth distance; they have leaves like those of the Spanish bean, with branches which spread along the ground. Each plant produces a large plateful of peanuts, which grow at the end of the roots and are the size of acorns».
The Portuguese introduced them to Africa, they were known as a «tiga» in Malinke, which is a corruption of manteiga (butter), because the oil content of the seeds in higher than that of Vigna subterranea of African origin, already know and cultivated by the Malinke people. Oddly, Friar Cristovão of Lisbon makes mention of the use of peanut in diet of the Maranhão people of Brazil, where it had «the virtue of serving for those with broken legs and arms, breaching the greens systems and placing them to the break, the bone healing very well». It was also introduced to the Orient, although there are no precise records of this. There are those who claim, although without firms basis, that peanut was introduced to Africa by slave traders.
The peanut, as a food crop, did not expand very quickly in the area of Africa. Te reason for this is because the fat content of the seeds of these two plants are noticeably different, and replacing the seeds of the African plant with those of the American one would result in higher levels of fat intake.
Despite its enormous value as a food plant, the peanut only spread and cultivation only intensified when the seeds became the raw material for extraction oil, consumed on a large scale in industrialized countries in temperate zones. The peanut husks are used to produce flour and groundnut cake with a high protein content, and fibers for textiles.