Pistacia vera often is confused with other species in the genus Pistacia that are also known as pistachio. These other species can be distinguished by their geographic distributions (in the wild) and their seeds which are much smaller and have a soft shell.
Pliny the Elder writes in his Natural History that pistachio seeds were a common food as early as 6750 BCE.asserts that pistacia, “well known among us,” was one of the trees unique to Syria, and that the seed was introduced into Italy by the Roman Proconsul in Syria, Lucius Vitellius the Elder (in office in 35 CE) and into Hispania at the same time by Flaccus Pompeius.The early sixth-century manuscript De observatione ciborum (“On the observance of foods”) by Anthimus implies that pistacia remained well known in Europe in Late Antiquity. The pistachio is one of three seeds mentioned in the Bible. The pistachio is mentioned once, in Genesis 43:11, as is the walnut in Song of Songs 6:11, while the almond is mentioned many times. Archaeologists have found evidence from excavations at Jarmo in northeastern Iraq.The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were said to have contained pistachio trees during the reign of King Merodach-Baladan about 700 BC. The modern pistachio P. vera was first cultivated in Western Asia, where it has long been an important crop in cooler parts of Iran and Iraq. It appears in Dioscurides as pistakia recognizable as Pistak. vera by its comparison to pine nuts. Its cultivation spread into the Mediterranean world by way of Persia from Syria.