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Overview

Brief Summary

Prunus armeniaca, the apricot, is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree in the Rosaceae (rose family) native to western Asia and possibly China, where it has been domesticated and cultivated since around 2,000 B.C. for its delicious edible fruit. It is now grown in warm-temperate regions worldwide, but particularly in western Asia, the near East, and the Mediterranean.

Related species that produce fruits referred to as apricots include Prunus mandshurica (from Manchuria, Korea) and P. siberica (from Siberia, Manchuria, and northern China). There is also a purple apricot (P. dasycarpa) and a Japanese apricot (P. mume). The wild apricot, the progenitor of the domestic apricot, which is variously classified as Armeniaca vulgarism or grouped with P. armeniaca, has been classified as endangered, due to declining populations in its native areas of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and China.

Apricot trees are similar in appearance to peach trees (variously classified as P. communis, P. dulcis, or Amygdalus communis). They can grow to 30 m (over 100 ft) but are generally smaller in orchards, with a small, rounded crown, reddish brown twigs, with leaves that are oval to elliptical to rounded to subcordate (nearly heart-shaped), 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 in) long, often pubescent (fuzzy-haired) on the underside around the leaf veins. The flowers, which open before the leaves, are white to pinkish, with 5 petals, around 2.5 cm (1 in) across. The early blooming makes it more susceptible to frost damage than peach trees, and thus it is generally not planted as far north. The fruits, which ripen to orange or yellowish orange, sometimes tinged with red, have soft flesh surrounding a hard, flattened stone, containing a kernel (seed) within.

Apricots, which are high in carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin C, as well as calcium, iron, and phosphorus, are eaten fresh or processed into juices (apricot nectar) and jams. They are popular in fruit salads, desserts, and baked goods, as well as some meat dishes. They are highly perishable as a fresh fruit, so are often canned or dried. The dried fruit may be eaten as a snack, or reconstituted by soaking and used for cooking. The kernels are also edible, although in limited quantities, as they may contain cyanide compounds. The kernels are also pressed to make apricot oil, which is used in cosmetics and massage oils.

Total commercial production of apricots in 2010 was 3.4 million metric tons. Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Italy, and Algeria were the leading producers. Within the U.S., 90% of commercial apricot production is in California, where most of the production (valued at $47.5 million in 2010) was for canning and drying. Smaller amounts are grown in other western states and western Canada, and in northeastern states for local fresh markets and in home gardens.

Apricots are highly susceptible to insect damage, especially from Curculio beetles, and from brown rot disease (Monilinia fructicola fungus). In addition, fruits may crack when grown in humid climates, so they are considered difficult to cultivate in much of the Northeastern U.S.

(Bailey et al. 1976, Boriss et al. 2011, Everett 1981, FAOSTAT 2012, van Wyk 2005.)

  • Bailey, L.H., E.Z. Bailey, and the L.H. Bailey Hortatorium. 1976. Hortus Third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan. p. 918.
  • Boriss, H., H. Brunke, and M. Kreith, revised by D. Huntrods.2011. Apricot profile. Iowa State University. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Retrieved 24 Feb 2012 from http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/fruits/apricot_profile.cfm.
  • Everett, T.H. 1981. “Prunus.” The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture 8: 2820–2830.
  • FAOSTAT. 2012. Searchable online statistical database from Food and Agriculture Division of the United Nations. Retrieved 24 Feb 2012 from http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/DesktopDefault.aspx?PageID=567#ancor.
  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. “Prunus armeniaca.Food Plants of the World: An Illustrated Guide. Portland, OR: Timber Press. p. 305.
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Biology

Wild apricot pollination is carried out by bees and insects, which are attracted to the abundant blossoms produced during March and April (2) (5). The fruits mature between June and July (2), eventually dropping to the ground, where the highly nutritious flesh and seeds provide an important food source for animals such as large field mice (Apodemus peninsulae), Chinese white-bellied rats (Niviventor confucianus) and David's rock squirrels (Sciurotamias davidianus). Many of these species transport the seeds to underground winter food caches, which facilitates the dispersal of the wild apricot, since any uneaten seeds may go on to germinate and produce new trees (6). Although its origins are believed to be central Asia, it remains unclear exactly when and where the first domestic cultivation of the wild apricot began. Certainly, by 100 B.C. it had been introduced into the Near East, expanding into much of Europe over the following centuries (7). Its fruits provide a valuable source of food, and its seeds have traditionally been used medicinally and as flavouring (3). Despite their nutritious content, the seeds of wild and domestic apricots contain varying amounts of a chemical which, when ingested, breaks down into the highly toxic hydrocyanic acid. While some controversial claims have been made that apricot seeds have anti-cancer properties, on a number of occasions excessive consumption has caused severe illness and even death (8).
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Description

Apricot trees are well known for their delicious fruits, and while cultivated varieties are commonly grown worldwide, their wild ancestor is now rare and in danger of extinction (1). The wild apricot is a small tree, usually between five to eight metres in height, with a crown shape that varies from spherical to oblong. The bark darkens with age, changing from reddish-brown to brown on the branches, and becoming greyish-brown on the trunk, with vertical splits appearing as the trunk grows and expands. Throughout much of the year the wild apricot presents an array of vibrant colours. In the spring, before the appearance of the leaves, the tree's winter buds blossom into a magnificent display of delicate white or pink flowers (2). In summer, the wild apricot bears numerous orange, ovoid fruits, generally smaller than that of the domestic varieties, clustered amongst its roundish, broad, green leaves (3). Apricot fruits are technically classified as drupes (2), a term describing any fruit with a fleshy outer layer enclosing a hard woody “stone” which contains a single seed (4).
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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of China"
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Distribution

Range Description

The wild apricot is considered very rare in all four countries where it naturally occurs. In Kazakhstan it is only known from three localities; Talgar, Turgen and Torkulak.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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"Tamil Nadu: Dindigul, Tirunelveli"
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Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang [Japan, Korea; C Asia].
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Range

The wild apricot is found in western China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (1).
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China, widely cultivated, sometimes escaped.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Elevation Range

2900-3500 m
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Description

Trees 5–8(–12) m tall, crown spherical, spherical-flattened, or elongated oblong. Bark grayish brown, longitudinally splitting. Older branchlets brownish, glabrous, transversely lenticellate; young branchlets reddish brown, with many pale lenticels. Winter buds purplish red, ovoid, 2–4 mm, glabrous or puberulous at scale margins, apex obtuse. Petiole 2–3.5 cm, glabrous or white pubescent, basally usually with 1–6 nectaries; leaf blade broadly ovate to orbicular-ovate, 5–9 × 4–8 cm, both surfaces glabrous, abaxially pubescent in vein axils, or adaxially white pubescent, base cuneate, broadly cuneate, rounded, or subcordate and with several nectaries, margin crenate, apex acute to shortly acuminate. Flowers solitary or occasionally paired, opening before leaves, 2–4.5 cm in diam. Pedicel 1–3 mm, pubescent. Hypanthium purplish green, shortly cylindrical, 5–7 × 3–4 mm, outside pubescent near base. Sepals purplish green, ovate to ovate-oblong, 3–5 mm, reflexed after anthesis, apex acute to rarely obtuse. Petals white, pink, or tinged with red, orbicular to obovate, 0.8–1.2 cm and ± as broad, margin shortly unguiculate, apex rounded. Stamens 20–100, slightly shorter than petals; filaments white; anthers yellow. Ovary pubescent. Style slightly longer to nearly as long as stamens, basally pubescent. Drupe white, yellow, orange, often tinged red, globose, ovoid, or rarely obovoid, 1.5 to more than 2.5 cm in diam., usually pubescent, glaucous or not; mesocarp succulent, not splitting when ripe; endocarp globose, ovoid, or ellipsoid, compressed laterally, often obtuse at ventral suture and more straight at dorsal suture, with keel-like ribs on ventral side, surface scabrous or smooth, base symmetric or rarely asymmetric, apex obtuse to ± rounded. Seed bitter or sweet. Fl. Mar–Apr, fr. Jun–Jul.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Sparse forests on mountain slopes, slopes, gullies, also cultivated; 700--3000 m.
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The wild apricot occupies shrubland or sparse forests on the slopes of valleys and mountains, up to elevations of 3,000 metres (1) (2).
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Associations

Foodplant / open feeder
caterpillar of Abraxas grossulariata grazes on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: 4-6
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
basidiome of Chondrostereum purpureum infects and damages trunk of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / pathogen
Monilinia fructigena infects and damages live, brown-rotten fruit of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / pathogen
Monilinia laxa infects and damages live, wilted flower of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / shot hole causer
few, minute, immersed pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta circumscissa causes shot holes on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / shot hole causer
amphigenous, scattered pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta prunicola causes shot holes on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: 9-10

Foodplant / spot causer
Plum Line Pattern virus causes spots on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / pathogen
Plum Pox virus infects and damages grooved, pitted, banded fruit of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / parasite
Podosphaera tridactyla parasitises live Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / spot causer
Pseudomonas syringae pv. mors-prunorum causes spots on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: late spring
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringiae causes spots on live leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: late spring
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / gall
infection of Taphrina deformans causes gall of curled, reddened leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: 6-7
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
telium of Tranzschelia discolor parasitises live leaf of Prunus armeniaca
Remarks: season: 7-9
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
effuse colony of Cladosporium dematiaceous anamorph of Venturia carpophila infects and damages live fruit of Prunus armeniaca

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Xyleborus dispar feeds within live cambium of Prunus armeniaca

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Prunus armeniaca

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Prunus armeniaca

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Prunus limeixing

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B2ab(iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Participants of the FFI/IUCN SSC Central Asian regional tree Red Listing workshop, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (11-13 July 2006)

Reviewer/s
Newton, A. & Eastwood, A. (Global Tree Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a very small area of occupancy. Its distribution is severely fragmented and there are continuing declines in area of habitat and number of mature individuals. Consequently it is classed as Endangered.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Threats to the species, the origin of all cultivated apricots, include construction, development of tourism resorts, cutting for fuel wood, harvesting of fruit and the collection of germplasm by both national and international plant breeding companies.
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The Endangered wild apricot faces numerous threats to its survival. A combination of overexploitation as a fuel wood, and clearance for urban development—particularly tourist resorts—is rapidly diminishing the population of this already rare species (1). The problem is compounded by the fact that overgrazing, along with overharvesting of its fruit and seeds for food and by plant breeding companies, are reducing the wild apricot's reproductive success and preventing it from having any chance of recovery (1) (5).
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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Conservation

In 1984, the Chinese government listed the wild apricot in the Ily Valley as an Endangered Plant, and since then a number of studies have been carried out examining its ecology (5) (6). At the present time, however, there do not appear to be any practical measures directed towards protecting this species or restoring its populations in China. In contrast, in Kazakhstan, where the wild apricot is particularly rare, the “In-situ Conservation of Kazakhstan's Mountain Agrobiodiversity” project has targeted two large sites in the Tien Shan Mountains for National Park status. Once these have been established, the project's stakeholders plan to initiate a variety of innovative conservation strategies to preserve and restore the sites' wild apricot populations, as well as other native wild fruit trees (9).
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Wikipedia

Apricot

An apricot is a fruit or the tree that bears the fruit. Usually, an apricot tree is from the tree species Prunus armeniaca, but the species Prunus brigantina, Prunus mandshurica, Prunus mume, and Prunus sibirica are closely related, have similar fruit, and are also called apricots.[1]

Description[edit]

Apricot tree in central Cappadocia, Turkey
Apricot flowers in the village of Benhama, Kashmir

The apricot is a small tree, 8–12 m (26–39 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) in diameter and a dense, spreading canopy. The leaves are ovate, 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in) long and 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 2–4.5 cm (0.8–1.8 in) in diameter, with five white to pinkish petals; they are produced singly or in pairs in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm (0.6–1.0 in) diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface can be smooth (botanically described as: glabrous) or velvety with very short hairs (botanically: pubescent). The flesh is usually firm and not very juicy. Its taste can range from sweet to tart. The single seed is enclosed in a hard, stony shell, often called a "stone", with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.[2][3]

Apricot and its cross-section

Cultivation and uses[edit]

History of cultivation[edit]

Apricots drying on the ground in Turkey
Apricots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy201 kJ (48 kcal)
Carbohydrates11 g
- Sugars9 g
- Dietary fiber2 g
Fat0.4 g
Protein1.4 g
Vitamin A equiv.96 μg (12%)
- beta-carotene1094 μg (10%)
- lutein and zeaxanthin89 μg
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.03 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.04 mg (3%)
Niacin (vit. B3)0.6 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.24 mg (5%)
Vitamin B60.054 mg (4%)
Folate (vit. B9)9 μg (2%)
Vitamin C10 mg (12%)
Vitamin E0.89 mg (6%)
Vitamin K3.3 μg (3%)
Calcium13 mg (1%)
Iron0.4 mg (3%)
Magnesium10 mg (3%)
Manganese0.077 mg (4%)
Phosphorus23 mg (3%)
Potassium259 mg (6%)
Sodium1 mg (0%)
Zinc0.2 mg (2%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Apricots, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,009 kJ (241 kcal)
Carbohydrates63 g
- Sugars53 g
- Dietary fibre7 g
Fat0.5 g
Protein3.4 g
Vitamin A equiv.180 μg (23%)
- beta-carotene2163 μg (20%)
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.015 mg (1%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.074 mg (6%)
Niacin (vit. B3)2.589 mg (17%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.516 mg (10%)
Vitamin B60.143 mg (11%)
Folate (vit. B9)10 μg (3%)
Vitamin C1 mg (1%)
Vitamin E4.33 mg (29%)
Vitamin K3.1 μg (3%)
Calcium55 mg (6%)
Iron2.66 mg (20%)
Magnesium32 mg (9%)
Manganese0.235 mg (11%)
Phosphorus71 mg (10%)
Potassium1162 mg (25%)
Sodium10 mg (1%)
Zinc0.29 mg (3%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The origin of the apricot is disputed. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long, it is often thought to have originated there.[4][5] Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption. For example, De Poerderlé, writing in the 18th century, asserted, "Cet arbre tire son nom de l'Arménie, province d'Asie, d'où il est originaire et d'où il fut porté en Europe ..." ("this tree takes its name from Armenia, province of Asia, where it is native, and whence it was brought to Europe ...").[6] An archaeological excavation at Garni in Armenia found apricot seeds in an Eneolithic-era site.[7] Despite the great number of varieties of apricots that are grown in Armenia today (about 50),[5] according to Vavilov its center of origin would be the Chinese region, where the domestication of apricot would have taken place. Other sources say that the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC.[8]

Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great;[8] later, the Roman General Lucullus (106–57 B.C.) also would have imported some trees – the cherry, white heart cherry, and apricot – from Armenia to Rome[citation needed]. Subsequent sources were often confused about the origin of the species. Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalaya, China, and Japan.[9]

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran, where they are known under the common name of zard-ālū (Persian: زردآلو).

Egyptians usually dry apricots, add sweetener, and then use them to make a drink called amar al-dīn.

More recently, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Almost all U.S. commercial production is in California, with some in Washington and Utah.[10]

Many apricots are also cultivated in Australia, particularly South Australia, where they are commonly grown in the region known as the Riverland and in a small town called Mypolonga in the Lower Murray region of the state. In states other than South Australia, apricots are still grown, particularly in Tasmania and western Victoria and southwest New South Wales, but they are less common than in South Australia.

Today, apricot cultivation has spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

Cultivation[edit]

Fresh apricots on display
Dried organic apricot, produced in Turkey: The colour is dark because it has not been treated with sulfur dioxide (E220).

Although the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, it can grow in Mediterranean climates if enough cool winter weather allows a proper dormancy.[citation needed] The dry climate of these areas is good for fruit maturation. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30°C or lower if healthy. A limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, meaning spring frost can kill the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season. In China, winters can be very cold, but temperatures tend to be more stable than in Europe and especially North America, where large temperature swings can occur in winter. Hybridisation with the closely related Prunus sibirica (Siberian apricot; hardy to −50°C but with less palatable fruit) offers options for breeding more cold-tolerant plants.[11]

Prunus sibirica (Siberian apricot; hardy to −50°C but with less palatable fruit) offers options for breeding more cold-tolerant plants.

Apricot cultivars are most often grafted onto plum or peach rootstocks. The scion from an existing apricot plant provides the fruit characteristics, such as flavour and size, but the rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant.

Cultivators have created what is known as a "black apricot" or "purple apricot", (Prunus dasycarpa), a hybrid of an apricot and the cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera). Other apricot-plum hybrids is variously called plumcots, apriplums, pluots, or apriums.

Apricots have a chilling requirement of 300 to 900 chilling units. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. Some of the more popular US cultivars of apricots include 'Blenheim', 'Wenatchee Moorpark', 'Tilton', and 'Perfection'.

An old adage says an apricot tree will not grow far from the mother tree; the implication is that apricots are particular about the soil conditions in which they are grown.[citation needed] They prefer well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Some apricot cultivars are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees; others are not, such as Moongold and Sungold, which must be planted in pairs so that they can pollinate each other.

Apricots are susceptible to numerous diseases whose relative importance is different in the major production regions as a consequence of their climatic differences. Diseases include bacterial canker and blast, bacterial spot and crown gall, and an even longer list of fungal diseases, including brown rot, black knot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew. Other problems for apricots are nematodes, viral and phytoplasma diseases, including graft-transmissible problems.

Kernels[edit]

Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet, they may be substituted for almonds.[citation needed] The Italian liqueur amaretto and amaretti biscotti are flavoured with extract of apricot kernels rather than almonds.[citation needed] Oil pressed from these cultivar kernels, and known as oil of almond, has been used as cooking oil. Kernels contain between 2.05% and 2.40% hydrogen cyanide, but normal consumption is insufficient to produce serious effects.[12][clarification needed]

Medicinal and nonfood uses[edit]

Cyanogenic glycosides (found in most stone fruit seeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. Laetrile, a purported alternative treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. Apricot seeds were used against tumors as early as AD 502. In England during the 17th century, apricot oil was also used against tumors, swellings, and ulcers.[13]

A 2011 systematic review of amygdalin from the Cochrane Collaboration found:

The claims that laetrile or amygdalin have beneficial effects for cancer patients are not currently supported by sound clinical data. There is a considerable risk of serious adverse effects from cyanide poisoning after laetrile or amygdalin, especially after oral ingestion. The risk–benefit balance of laetrile or amygdalin as a treatment for cancer is therefore unambiguously negative.[14]

In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as an inducer of childbirth, as depicted in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi.

Due to their high fiber to volume ratio, dried apricots are sometimes used to relieve constipation or induce diarrhea. Effects can be felt after eating as few as three.

Etymology[edit]

The scientific name armeniaca was first used by Gaspard Bauhin in his Pinax Theatri Botanici (page 442), referring to the species as Mala armeniaca "Armenian apple". It is sometimes stated that this came from Pliny the Elder, but it was not used by Pliny. Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753.[15]

The name apricot is probably derived from a tree mentioned as praecocia by Pliny. Pliny says "We give the name of apples (mala) ... to peaches (persica) and pomegranates (granata) ..."[16] Later in the same section he states "The Asiatic peach ripens at the end of autumn, though an early variety (praecocia) ripens in summer – these were discovered within the last thirty years ...".

The classical authors connected Greek armeniaca with Latin praecocia:[17] Pedanius Dioscorides' " ... Ἀρμενιακὰ, Ῥωμαιστὶ δὲ βρεκόκκια"[18] and Martial's "Armeniaca, et praecocia latine dicuntur".[19] Putting together the Armeniaca and the Mala obtains the well-known epithet, but there is no evidence the ancients did it; Armeniaca alone meant the apricot. Nonetheless, the 12th century Andalusian agronomist Ibn al-'Awwam refers to the species in the title of chapter 40 of his Kitab al-Filaha as والتفاح الارمني, "apple from Armenia", stating that it is the same as المشمش or البرقوق ("al-mishmish" or "al-barqūq").

Accordingly, the American Heritage Dictionary under apricot derives praecocia from praecoquus, "cooked or ripened beforehand" [in this case meaning early ripening], becoming Greek πραικόκιον praikókion "apricot" and Arabic البرقوق al-barqūq, a term that has been used for a variety of different members of the genus Prunus (it currently refers primarily to the plum in most varieties of Arabic, but some writers use it as a catchall term for Prunus fruit).

The English name comes from earlier "abrecock" in turn from the Middle French abricot, from Catalan abercoc.[20] Both the Catalan and the Spanish albaricoque were adaptations of the Arabic, dating from the Moorish rule of Spain.

However, in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, the word for "apricot" is damasco, which could indicate that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.[21] The word damasco is also the word for "apricot" in Portuguese (both European and Brazilian, though in Portugal the word alperce is also used).

In culture[edit]

An Armenian stamp featuring the apricot.

The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. For instance, the classical word (literally: 'apricot altar') which means "educational circle", is still widely used in written language. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in 4th century BCE, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees.[22] The association with medicine in turn comes from the common use of apricot kernels as a component in traditional Chinese medicine, and from the story of Dong Feng (董奉), a physician during the Three Kingdoms period, who required no payment from his patients except that they plant apricot trees in his orchard on recovering from their illnesses, resulting in a large grove of apricot trees and a steady supply of medicinal ingredients. The term "Expert of the Apricot Grove" (杏林高手) is still used as a poetic reference to physicians.

The fact that apricot season is very short has given rise to the very common Egyptian Arabic and Palestinian Arabic expression "filmishmish" ("in apricot [season]") or "bukra filmishmish" ("tomorrow in apricot [season]"), generally uttered as a riposte to an unlikely prediction, or as a rash promise to fulfill a request.

The Turkish idiom "bundan iyisi Şam'da kayısı" (literally, the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus) means "it doesn't get any better than this". It is used when something is the very best it can be, like a delicious apricot from Damascus.

Production trends[edit]

The global distribution of apricot output in 2005.

According to FAOSTAT, the top producers of apricots (in tonnes) in 2011were as follows:[23]

RankCountryProduction
(MT)
1 Turkey676,138
2 Iran452,988
3 Uzbekistan356,000
4 Algeria285,897
5 Italy263,132
6 Pakistan189,420
7 Morocco159,124
8 France155,124
9 Ukraine119,900
10 Japan106,900


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bortiri, E.; Oh, S.-H.; Jiang, J.; Baggett, S.; Granger, A.; Weeks, C.; Buckingham, M.; Potter, D.; Parfitt, D.E. (2001). "Phylogeny and systematics of Prunus (Rosaceae) as determined by sequence analysis of ITS and the chloroplast trnL-trnF spacer DNA". Systematic Botany 26 (4): 797–807. JSTOR 3093861. 
  2. ^ Flora of China: Armeniaca vulgaris
  3. ^ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  4. ^ CultureGrams 2002 – Page 11 by CultureGrams
  5. ^ a b "VII Symposium on Apricot Culture and Decline". Actahort.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  6. ^ De Poerderlé, M. le Baron (MDCCLXXXVIII (1788)). Manuel de l'Arboriste et du Forestier Belgiques: Seconde Édition: Tome Premier. à Bruxelles: Emmanuel Flon. p. 682.  Downloadable Google Books.
  7. ^ B. Arakelyan, "Excavations at Garni, 1949–50" in Contributions to the Archaeology of Armenia, (Henry Field, ed.), Cambridge, 1968, page 29.
  8. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening 1: 203–205. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  9. ^ Loudon, J.C. (1838). Arboretum Et Fruticetum Britannicum. Vol. II. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans. pp. 681–684.  The genus is given as Armeniaca. Downloadable at Google Books.
  10. ^ Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: Apricots
  11. ^ Prunus sibirica – L.
  12. ^ Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa - Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962)
  13. ^ Lewis, WH and Elvin-Lewis, MPF (2003). Medical botany: plants affecting human health. Hoboken, New Jersey; John Wiley & Sons. Page 214.
  14. ^ Milazzo, Stefania; Ernst, Edzard; Lejeune, Stephane; Boehm, Katja; Horneber, Markus (2011). "Laetrile treatment for cancer". In Milazzo, Stefania. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005476.pub3. 
  15. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 1:474.
  16. ^ N.H. Book XV Chapter XI, Rackham translation from the Loeb edition.
  17. ^ Holland, Philemon (1601). "The XV. Booke of the Historie of Nature, Written by Plinius Secundus: Chap. XIII". Bill Thayer at penelope.uchicago.edu. pp. Note 31 by Thayer relates some scholarship of Jean Hardouin making the connection.  Holland's chapter enumeration varies from Pliny's.
  18. ^ De Materia Medica Book I Chapter 165.
  19. ^ Epigram XIII Line 46.
  20. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary under Apricot.
  21. ^ "DICTIONARY > english–latin american spanish" (PDF). 
  22. ^ "《莊子·漁父》". Ctext.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  23. ^ "Production of Apricot by countries". United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization. 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
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Prunus armeniaca

Prunus armeniaca ("Armenian plum"),[2] the most commonly cultivated apricot species, also called ansu apricot,[1] Siberian apricot,[1] Tibetan apricot,[1] is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.

Description[edit]

Apricot tree in central Cappadocia, Turkey
Apricot flowers in the village of Benhama, Kashmir

Prunus armeniaca is a small tree, 8–12 m (26–39 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) in diameter and a dense, spreading canopy. The leaves are ovate, 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in) long and 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 2–4.5 cm (0.8–1.8 in) in diameter, with five white to pinkish petals; they are produced singly or in pairs in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm (0.6–1.0 in) diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface can be smooth (botanically described as: glabrous) or velvety with very short hairs (botanically: pubescent). The flesh is usually firm and not very juicy. Its taste can range from sweet to tart. The single seed is enclosed in a hard, stony shell, often called a "stone", with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.[3][4]

Apricot and its cross-section

Cultivation and uses[edit]

History of cultivation[edit]

Apricots drying on the ground in Turkey

The origin of the species is disputed. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long, it is often thought to have originated there.[5][6] Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption. For example, De Poerderlé, writing in the 18th century, asserted, "Cet arbre tire son nom de l'Arménie, province d'Asie, d'où il est originaire et d'où il fut porté en Europe ..." ("this tree takes its name from Armenia, province of Asia, where it is native, and whence it was brought to Europe ...").[7] An archaeological excavation at Garni in Armenia found apricot seeds in an Eneolithic-era site.[8] Despite the great number of varieties of apricots that are grown in Armenia today (about 50),[6] according to Vavilov its center of origin would be the Chinese region, where the domestication of apricot would have taken place. Other sources say that the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC.[9]

Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great;[9] later, the Roman General Lucullus (106–57 B.C.) also would have imported some trees – the cherry, white heart cherry, and apricot – from Armenia to Rome[citation needed]. Subsequent sources were often confused about the origin of the species. Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalaya, China, and Japan.[10]

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes.

More recently, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries.

Today, apricot cultivation has spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

Uses[edit]

Main article: Apricot

Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet, they may be substituted for almonds.[citation needed] The Italian liqueur amaretto and amaretti biscotti are flavoured with extract of apricot kernels rather than almonds.[citation needed] Oil pressed from these cultivar kernels, and known as oil of almond, has been used as cooking oil. Kernels contain between 2.05% and 2.40% hydrogen cyanide, but normal consumption is insufficient to produce serious effects.[11][clarification needed]

Etymology[edit]

The scientific name armeniaca was first used by Gaspard Bauhin in his Pinax Theatri Botanici (page 442), referring to the species as Mala armeniaca "Armenian apple". It is sometimes stated that this came from Pliny the Elder, but it was not used by Pliny. Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753.[12]

The name apricot is probably derived from a tree mentioned as praecocia by Pliny. Pliny says "We give the name of apples (mala) ... to peaches (persica) and pomegranates (granata) ..."[13] Later in the same section he states "The Asiatic peach ripens at the end of autumn, though an early variety (praecocia) ripens in summer – these were discovered within the last thirty years ...".

The classical authors connected Greek armeniaca with Latin praecocia:[14] Pedanius Dioscorides' " ... Ἀρμενιακὰ, Ῥωμαιστὶ δὲ βρεκόκκια"[15] and Martial's "Armeniaca, et praecocia latine dicuntur".[16] Putting together the Armeniaca and the Mala obtains the well-known epithet, but there is no evidence the ancients did it; Armeniaca alone meant the apricot. Nonetheless, the 12th century Andalusian agronomist Ibn al-'Awwam refers to the species in the title of chapter 40 of his Kitab al-Filaha as والتفاح الارمني, "apple from Armenia", stating that it is the same as المشمش or البرقوق ("al-mishmish" or "al-barqūq").

Accordingly, the American Heritage Dictionary under apricot derives praecocia from praecoquus, "cooked or ripened beforehand" [in this case meaning early ripening], becoming Greek πραικόκιον praikókion "apricot" and Arabic البرقوق al-barqūq, a term that has been used for a variety of different members of the genus Prunus (it currently refers primarily to the plum in most varieties of Arabic, but some writers use it as a catchall term for Prunus fruit).

The English name comes from earlier "abrecock" in turn from the Middle French abricot, from Catalan abercoc.[17] Both the Catalan and the Spanish albaricoque were adaptations of the Arabic, dating from the Moorish rule of Spain.

However, in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, the word for "apricot" is damasco, which could indicate that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.[18] The word damasco is also the word for "apricot" in Portuguese (both European and Brazilian, though in Portugal the word alperce is also used).

In culture[edit]

An Armenian stamp featuring Prunus armeniaca.

The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. For instance, the classical word (literally: 'apricot altar') which means "educational circle", is still widely used in written language. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in 4th century BCE, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees.[19] The association with medicine in turn comes from the common use of apricot kernels as a component in traditional Chinese medicine, and from the story of Dong Feng (董奉), a physician during the Three Kingdoms period, who required no payment from his patients except that they plant apricot trees in his orchard on recovering from their illnesses, resulting in a large grove of apricot trees and a steady supply of medicinal ingredients. The term "Expert of the Apricot Grove" (杏林高手) is still used as a poetic reference to physicians.

In Armenia, the wood of the apricot tree is used for making wood carvings such as the duduk, which is a popular wind instrument in Armenia and is also called the apricot pipe. Several hand-made souvenirs are also made from the apricot wood.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d John H. Wiersema. "USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)". Ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  2. ^ "apricot". The Oxford Companion to Food (2nd ed. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2006. ISBN 9780191018251. 
  3. ^ Flora of China: Armeniaca vulgaris
  4. ^ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  5. ^ CultureGrams 2002 – Page 11 by CultureGrams
  6. ^ a b "VII Symposium on Apricot Culture and Decline". Actahort.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  7. ^ De Poerderlé, M. le Baron (MDCCLXXXVIII (1788)). Manuel de l'Arboriste et du Forestier Belgiques: Seconde Édition: Tome Premier. à Bruxelles: Emmanuel Flon. p. 682.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Downloadable Google Books.
  8. ^ B. Arakelyan, "Excavations at Garni, 1949–50" in Contributions to the Archaeology of Armenia, (Henry Field, ed.), Cambridge, 1968, page 29.
  9. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening 1: 203–205. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  10. ^ Loudon, J.C. (1838). Arboretum Et Fruticetum Britannicum. Vol. II. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green and Longmans. pp. 681–684.  The genus is given as Armeniaca. Downloadable at Google Books.
  11. ^ Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa - Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962)
  12. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 1:474.
  13. ^ N.H. Book XV Chapter XI, Rackham translation from the Loeb edition.
  14. ^ Holland, Philemon (1601). "The XV. Booke of the Historie of Nature, Written by Plinius Secundus: Chap. XIII". Bill Thayer at penelope.uchicago.edu. pp. Note 31 by Thayer relates some scholarship of Jean Hardouin making the connection.  Holland's chapter enumeration varies from Pliny's.
  15. ^ De Materia Medica Book I Chapter 165.
  16. ^ Epigram XIII Line 46.
  17. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary under Apricot.
  18. ^ "DICTIONARY > english–latin american spanish" (PDF). 
  19. ^ "《莊子·漁父》". Ctext.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
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Apricots are cultivated for their edible fruit throughout China and in most temperate parts of the world. The seeds are also edible and used medicinally. Because of its long history of cultivation in China, it is difficult to know for certain whether specific collections are really wild or escaped from cultivation, but probably the species originated in C Asia.
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