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This is a small deciduous tree about 10-30' tall that has a trunk up to ½' across and a relatively broad crown with ascending to spreading branches. Trunk bark is gray with horizontal lenticels, becoming increasingly rough and scaly with age. Larger branches are also gray, while young branches (or twigs) are burgundy and smooth. New shoots growing from the tips of branches are light green, terete, and usually glabrous. Alternate leaves occur along the young branches and new shoots, sometimes growing in dense clusters. Occasionally, more than one leaf may develop from the same bud. Individual leaves are 2-6" long and ½-1½" across; they are elliptic-lanceolate to elliptic-oblanceolate in shape and their margins are serrated. Upper leaf surfaces are medium to dark green and glabrous, while lower leaf surfaces are pale to medium green and usually glabrous (or sparsely hairy). The petioles are ½-¾" long, light green, and usually glabrous. The leaves have a tendency to fold upward longitudinally along their central veins, and they often droop downward from their petioles. Nearly sessile flowers are produced along young branches before the vernal leaves develop; they usually occur individually or less often in pairs. Each flower is 1-1½" across, consisting of 5 spreading pink petals (rarely white petals), a burgundy calyx with 5 rounded lobes, 15-30 stamens, and a pistil with a single style. The petals are oval to orbicular in shape, although their bases are clawed (becoming abruptly contracted and narrow). The long slender filaments of the stamens are usually light pink and glabrous, while the long slender style is usually light green, becoming hairy toward its base. The blooming period occurs during mid-spring for about 2 weeks before the vernal leaves develop. The flowers have a pleasant fragrance. Afterwards, fertile flowers are replaced by fruits that become mature during the summer or fall. Initially, these fruits are relatively green, ovoid in shape, fuzzy from dense hairs, and small in size. At maturity, these fruits are up to 3" long and 3" across, yellow to deep orange-red, globoid or globoid-ovoid in shape, and still fuzzy from dense hairs (however, the dominance of a recessive gene can produce glabrous fruits that are called nectarines). The fruits of wild Peach trees tend to be smaller in size than those of cultivated trees. The juicy flesh of mature fruits is sweet to sweet-tart in flavor and either white or yellow. Mature fruits also produce a distinctive peach-like aroma. The drupes of these fruits are ½-¾" long, ovoid in shape, and slightly flattened; their surfaces are red to reddish brown and deeply pitted. The root system is woody, spreading, and relatively shallow.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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