HAZELNUT (fandoq), the hard-shelled fruit of the shrub (or small tree) Corylus avellana L. (fam. Corylaceae), containing an edible kernel of high nutritious value.
Terminology. The New Persian name (and probably Arabicized from b/fondoḡ), with vernacular variants such as Azeri Turk. fendekò, Gol. fandaq, and Māz. fendog, represents a Mid. Pers. vocable occurring in the classification of “principal” fruits in the Bundahišn (q.v.) along with gōz/yōz (walnut) as one of the ten fruits “only the inside of which is edible.” The Pahlavi word concerned has been variously read as fandak (tr. Anklesaria, pp. 150-51), fundulak (Asmussen, pp. 16, 17), and pon-dik (MacKenzie, s.v.). In view of the word’s etymology, MacKenzie’s reading seems to be the most plausible: in fact, the Mid. Pers. and the Arabicized words are adaptations of Gk. Pontikón [káryon] or [karua] Pontika (in Dioscorides, Engl. tr. , no. 179, p. 88), lit. “Pontic [nut]” (cf. its Lat. counterpart [nux] pontica), referring to the fruit’s indigenousness and abundance in Pontus (an ancient province in northern Anatolia; see Habitat below; for this etymology see Löw, I, pp. 616 ff.). Incidentally, the Ar. homonym fondoq “hostel” has another Greek origin: pandokheion (Freytag; Kazimirski, s.v.).
The hazelnut has also been called jellawz in Arabic, though it is unclear why. Dinavari’s statement (ed. Lewin, no. 216, p. 99) that “jellawz, a kind of bondoq, is Arabic, and bondoq is Persian” is misleading, if not utterly incorrect. Jellawz is a disfigured Arabicized form of Pers. čel-ḡuza (lit. “forty [wal]nuts”; cf. the above gōz), properly designating the cone of various pines, particularly the pinyon or “pine nut” (Pinus pinea L.), each of which consists of a conical cluster of numerous overlapping woody seals that cover the edible seeds released at maturity. For a discussion of this confusion of hazelnuts and pine nuts in Arabic-speaking countries (and in old medico-botanical works as well as some lexicons), see Renaud and Colin in the Toḥfat al-aḥbāb, (nos. 64 and 111), and Meyerhof apud Maimonides (no. 43, pp. 23-24).
Habitat. According to Browicz (pp. 4-5), the general distribution of indigenous, “wild” C. avellana extends from Europe through Anatolia and the Caucasus to northwestern Persia. He has recorded the following regions of their distribution within the Flora Iranica area proper: Ṭāleš (mountains, Lankarān); northern Persia: Gilān (Āstārā, Rašt); and western Persia: Azerbaijan (Ardabil, etc.). Ṯābeti, whose description of C. avellana in Persia (no. 304) is derived mostly from Browicz, adds the following details: it is spontaneous in the forests of Arasbārān, Āstārā, Ṭavāleš, Dinučāl, Ṭārom, Zanjār, Golidāḡ, and presumably on the Hazār-jarib highlands (in Māzandarān), at altitudes as low as 100 m (above sea level) in Dinučāl, and as high as 1,600 m at the Ḥayrān pass in Ardabil province.
Two other species of Corylus are also recorded in this area by Browicz (ibid): (1) C. colurna L. (also termed fandoq by Ṯābeti, no. 305), a tree up to 25 m tall, found in Gilān (near Lāhijān) and at Deh-bālā in Yazd (probably cultivated). According to Ṯābeti, its “beautiful pink wood is used in [local] fine handicrafts.” (2) C. Jacquemontii Decne., a tree up to 15 m tall, spontaneous in northeastern Afghanistan (Nurestān) and in Pakistan (Swat).
Cultivation. In view of the commercial value of hazelnuts as a non-oil export item, statistics show a general increase in the area of land that is currently being used for their cultivation in Iran, and in the export of hazelnuts. According to the latest official report (relating to the agricultural year 1379-80 Š./2001-02) by Wezārat-e jehād-e kešāvarzi, which has replaced the former Wezārat-e kešāvarzi (Iranian Ministry of Agriculture), the total area under actually fructiferous hazelnut cultivation (in hectares) and the total hazelnut production (in metric tons) were 10,554.9 hectares and 11,749.28 tons (p. 57), respectively. The largest areas and production levels belong to the following provinces (pp. 134, 113, 140, 116, 101, respectively): Gilān (7,556.1 hectares; 8,338.85 tons), Qazvin (1,525 hectares; 1,525 tons), Mā-zandarān (680 hectares; 957 tons), Qom (256 hectares; 230.4 tons), and Zanjān (227 hectares; 392 tons). Plans seem to be under way to expand the cultivation; for instance, young hazelnut plants were planted across 19 hectares in Luristan, although there has been no actual production in that region so far (p. 137).
Export. According to the latest report published by the Iranian Customs Administration (Gomrok), the amount of hazelnuts exported in 1380 Š./2001-02 was as follows (pp. 39-40): (a) unshelled hazelnuts, fresh or dried: 17,408 kg, valued at Rls. 28,971,540 or US$16,508; (b) shelled hazelnuts, fresh or dried: 9,258 kg, valued at Rls. 47,063,835 or US$26,817. The top five importers of unshelled hazelnuts (Type a) were Afghanistan (5,345 kg), U.A.E. (5,043 kg), Kuwait (2,640 kg), Saudi Arabia (700 kg), and Sweden (346 kg); and the top five importers for shelled hazelnuts (Type b) were Ukraine (4,965 kg), Japan (2,610 kg), U.A.E. (628 kg), Malaysia (610 kg), and Bahrain (154 kg).
Domestic use. Unlike such nuts as pistachios and walnuts, hazelnuts are not usually consumed alone, but rather as one of the main components of ājil (assortment of nuts, q.v.), whether fresh or roasted.
Jes P. Asmussen, “The list of fruits in the Bundahišn,” in M. Boyce and I. Gershevitch, eds., W. B. Henning Memorial Volume, London, 1970, pp. 14-19.
K. Browicz, Corylaceae, Flora Iranica 97, Graz, 1972.
Bundahišn, tr. Anklesaria. Abu Ḥanifa Dinavari, The Book of Plants [Ketāb al-nabāt]: parts of the alphabetical section, ed. B. Lewin, Uppsala, 1953.
Dioscorides, The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides, tr. John Goodyer, 1655, ed. Robert T. Gunther, Oxford, 1934.
Georg Wilhelm Freytag, Lexicon arabico-latinum, 4 vols., Halis Saxonum, 1830-37.
Gomrok-e . . . Irān, Āmār-e bāzargāni-e ḵāreji: ṣāderāt, 1380; Tehran, June-July 2002.
Albert de Biberstein Kazimirski, Dictionnaire arabe-français . . . , 2 vols., new ed., Paris, 1960.
Immanuel Löw, Die Flora der Juden, 4 vols., Vienna and Leipzig, 1924-34.
David N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, London, 1971.
Moses Maimonides, Šarḥ asmāʾ al-ʿoqqār (L’explication des noms de drogues:un glossaire de matière médicale de Maïmonide), ed. and tr. Max Meyerhof, Cairo, 1940.
Ḥabib-Allāh Ṯābeti, Jangalhā, deraḵtān o deraḵtčahā-ye Irān, Tehran, 1976.
Toḥfat al-aḥbāb: glossaire de la malière médicale marocaine, ed. and tr. H. P. J. Renaud and Georges S. Colin, Paris, 1934.
Wezārat-e jehād-e kešāvarzi, Āmār-nāma-ye kešāvarzi-e sāl-e zerāʿi-e 1379-80:1. Maḥṣulāt-e zerāʿi o bāḡi, Tehran, July-August, 2002.
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 20, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 1, pp. 96-97