Apricot

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Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.[1] Amygdalus armeniaca (L.) Dumort.[1]

The apricot (Prunus armeniaca) 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.

Contents

Description

It is a small tree, 8–12 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter and a dense, spreading canopy. The leaves are ovate, 5–9 cm long and 4–8 cm wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 2–4.5 cm 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 diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface is usually pubescent. 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]

Cultivation and uses

History of cultivation

The apricot was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long it is often thought to be native 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] However, the Vavilov center of origin locates the origin of the apricot's domestication in the Chinese region, and other sources say the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC.[8]

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