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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apricot fruit
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus
Section: Armeniaca
Species: P. armeniaca
Binomial name
Prunus armeniaca

The apricot (Prunus armeniaca, syn. Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.) 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.



Apricot tree in central Cappadocia, Turkey

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]

Apricot and its cross section

Cultivation and uses


History of cultivation

Apricots drying on the ground in Turkey.
Apricots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 201 kJ (48 kcal)
Carbohydrates 11 g
Sugars 9 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Fat 0.4 g
Protein 1.4 g
Vitamin A equiv. 96 μg (11%)
- beta-carotene 1094 μg (10%)
Vitamin C 10 mg (17%)
Iron 0.4 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Apricots, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,009 kJ (241 kcal)
Carbohydrates 63 g
Sugars 53 g
Dietary fibre 7 g
Fat 0.5 g
Protein 3.4 g
Vitamin A equiv. 180 μg (20%)
- beta-carotene 2163 μg (20%)
Vitamin C 1 mg (2%)
Iron 2.7 mg (22%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

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]

Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great,[8] and the Roman General Lucullus (106–57 B.C.) also exported some trees – the cherry, white heart cherry, and apricot – from Armenia to Europe. 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]

Today the cultivars have spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

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. 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.


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 often thought of as a "subtropical" fruit, this is actually false – the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, although it can grow in Mediterranean climates very well. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C or lower if healthy. The limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, around the time of the vernal equinox even in northern locations like the Great Lakes region, meaning spring frost often kills the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season. In their native 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. The trees do need some winter cold (even if minimal) to bear and grow properly and do well in Mediterranean climate locations since spring frosts are less severe but there is some cool winter weather to allow a proper dormancy. The dry climate of these areas is best for good fruit production. 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]

Apricot cultivars are most often grafted on plum or peach rootstocks. A cutting of an existing apricot plant provides the fruit characteristics such as flavour, size, etc., but the rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant. Apricots and plums can hybridize with each other and produce fruit that are variously called pluots, plumcots, 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.

There is an old adage that 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. They prefer a well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. If fertilizer is needed, as indicated by yellow-green leaves, then 1/4 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer should be applied in the second year. Granular fertilizer should be scattered beneath the branches of the tree. An additional 1/4 pound should be applied for every year of age of the tree in early spring, before growth starts. Apricots are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees, with the exception of the 'Moongold' and 'Sungold' cultivars, which can pollinate each other. Apricots are susceptible to numerous bacterial diseases including bacterial canker and blast, bacterial spot and crown gall. They are susceptible to an even longer list of fungal diseases including brown rot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew. Other problems for apricots are nematodes and viral diseases, including graft-transmissible problems.

Production trends

Apricot output in 2005
Top eleven apricot producers—2005
(1,000 tonnes)
 Turkey 390
 Iran 285
 Italy 232
 Pakistan 220
 Greece 196
 France 181
 Algeria 145
 Spain 136
 Japan 123
 Morocco 103
 Syria 101
World total 1916

Turkey (Malatya region) is the leading apricot producer,[13] followed by Iran. In Armenia apricots are grown in Ararat Valley.


Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they may be substituted for almonds. The Italian liqueur amaretto and amaretti biscotti are flavoured with extract of apricot kernels rather than almonds. Oil pressed from these cultivars has been used as cooking oil.

Medicinal and non-food uses

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. As early as the year 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors, and in the 17th century, apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers. However, in 1980 the National Cancer Institute in the USA declared laetrile to be an ineffective cancer treatment.[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.

Research shows that of any food, apricots possess the highest levels and widest variety of carotenoids[citation needed]. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help prevent heart disease,[citation needed] reduce "bad cholesterol" levels,[citation needed] and protect against cancer.[citation needed] Although initial studies suggested that antioxidant supplements might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation may be harmful.[15] In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst[citation needed].


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". Most believed and many still believe that it came from Pliny the Elder; however, it is not used by Pliny or any other classical author, even in Late Latin. Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753.[16] A popular name for this species is apricock.[citation needed]

The epithet probably is derived from an etymological identification of a tree mentioned in Pliny with the apricot. Pliny says "We give the name of apples (mala) ... to peaches (persica) and pomegranates (granata) ..."[17] 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 ..."

From this praecocia comes the standard etymology of "apricot". The classical authors connected armeniaca with praecocia:[18] Pedanius Dioscorides' " ... Ἀρμενιακὰ, Ῥωμαιστὶ δὲ βρεκόκκια"[19] and Martial's "Armeniaca, et praecocia latine dicuntur".[20] 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.

Accordingly, the American Heritage Dictionary under apricot derives praecocia from praecoquus, "cooked or ripened beforehand", becoming Greek πραικόκιον "apricot" and Arabic al-barqūq "apricot" (although in most of the Arab world the word now means "plum"). The English name comes from earlier "abrecock" in turn from the Middle French abricot, from Catalan abercoc.[21] Both the latter and Spanish albaricoque were adaptations of the Arabic, dating from the Moorish occupation of Spain. However, in Argentina and Chile the word for "apricot" is damasco, which probably indicates that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.[22]

The anecdotal evidence is the only link between the apricot and Pliny's tree, but even if true, the origin of the word is not the origin of the tree. The Romans had no idea why the tree was called armeniaca and presumed as did later botanists that it was "from Armenia", whatever that should mean. Scientifically nothing at all about the evolution or production of the wild tree or any of its cultivars or about the native range at the time of the Romans or any other time in history is implied. At best the tradition reflects Roman literary opinion concerning some now obscure horticultural events.

In culture

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, had told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum among the wood of apricot.[citation needed]

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

Among American tank-driving soldiers, apricots are taboo, by superstition. Tankers will not eat apricots, allow apricots onto their vehicles, and often will not even say the word "apricot". This superstition stems from Sherman tank breakdowns purportedly happening in the presence of cans of apricots.[23]

Dreaming of apricots, in English folklore, is said to be good luck.[citation needed]

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" and used when something is the very best it can be; like a delicious apricot from Damascus.

See also


  1. ^ Participants of the FFI/IUCN SSC Central Asian regional tree Red Listing workshop, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (11–13 July 2006) (2007) Armeniaca vulgaris In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. Retrieved on 7 November 2009.
  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. ^ VII Symposium on Apricot Culture and Decline
  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. ^ UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) [1]
  13. ^ The tendencies of Apricot producers
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Bjelakovic G; Nikolova, D; Gluud, LL; Simonetti, RG; Gluud, C (2007). "Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis". JAMA 297 (8): 842–57. doi:10.1001/jama.297.8.842. PMID 17327526. 
  16. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 1:474.
  17. ^ N.H. Book XV Chapter XI, Rackham translation from the Loeb edition.
  18. ^ Holland, Philemon (1601). "The XV. Booke of the Historie of Nature, Written by Plinius Secundus: Chap. XIII". Bill Thayer at pp. Note 31 by Thayer relates some scholarship of Jean Hardouin making the connection.  Holland's chapter enumeration varies from Pliny's.
  19. ^ De Materia Medica Book I Chapter 115.
  20. ^ Epigram XIII Line 46.
  21. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary under Apricot.
  22. ^ "DICTIONARY > english–latin american spanish" (pdf). 
  23. ^ Marines Magazine – Marine Corps superstitions

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

APRICOT (from the Lat. praecox, or praecoquus, ripened early, coquere, to cook, or ripen; the English form, formerly "apricock" and "abrecox," comes through the Fr. abricot, from the Span. albaricoque, which was an adaptation of the Arabic al-burquk, itself a rendering of the late Gr. 7rpCKOKKCa or dip 7rpacKOKCOV, adapted from the Latin; the derivation from in aprico coctus is a mere guess), the fruit of Prunus armeniaca, also called Armeniaca vulgaris. Under the former name it is regarded as a species of the genus to which the plums belong, the latter establishes it as a distinct genus of the natural order Rosaceae. The apricot is, like the plum, a stone fruit, cultivated generally throughout temperate regions, and used chiefly in the form of preserves and in tarts. The tree has long been cultivated in Armenia (hence the name Armeniaca); it is a native of north China and other parts of temperate Asia. It flowers very early in the season, and is a hardy tree, but the fruit will scarcely ripen in Britain unless the tree is trained against a wall. A great number of varieties of the apricot, as of most cultivated fruits, are distinguished by cultivators. The kernels of several varieties are edible, and in Egypt those of the Musch-Musch variety form a considerable article of commerce. The French liqueur Eau de noyaux is prepared from bitter apricot kernels. Large quantities of fruit are imported from France into the United Kingdom.

The apricot is propagated by budding on the mussel or common plum stock. The tree succeeds in good well-drained loamy soil, rather light than heavy. It is usually grown as a wall tree, the east and west aspects being preferred to the south, which induces mealiness in the fruit, though in Scotland the best aspects are necessary. The most usual and best mode of training is the fan method. The fruit is produced on shoots of the preceding year, and on small close spurs formed on the two-year-old wood. The trees should be planted about 20 ft. apart. The summer pruning should begin early in June, at which period all the irregular foreright and useless shoots are pinched off; and, shortly afterwards, those which remain are fastened to the wall. At the winter pruning all branches not duly furnished with spurs and fruit buds are removed. The young bearing shoots are moderately pruned at the points, care being, however, taken to leave a terminal shoot or leader to each branch. The most common error in the pruning of apricots is laying in the bearing shoots too thickly; the branches naturally diverge in fan training, and when they extend so as to be about 15 in. apart, a fresh branch should be laid in, to be again subdivided as required. The blossoms of the apricot open early in spring, but are more hardy than those of the peach; the same means of protection when necessary may be employed for both. If tie fruit sets too numerously, it is thinned out in June and in the beginning of July, the later thinnings being used for tarts. In the south of England, where the soil is suitable, the hardier sorts of apricot, as the Breda and Brussels, bear well as standard trees in favourable seasons. In such cases the trees may be planted from 20 to 25 ft. apart.

The ripening of the fruit of the apricot is accelerated by culture under glass, the trees being either planted out like peaches or grown in pots on the orchard-house system. They must be very gently excited, since they naturally bloom when the spring temperature is comparatively low. At first a maximum of 40° only must be permitted; after two or three weeks it may be raised to 45°, and later on to 50° and 55°, and thus continued till the trees are in flower, air being freely admitted, and the minimum or night temperature ranging from 40° to 45°. After the fruit is set the temperature should be gradually raised, being kept higher in clear weather than in dull. When the fruit has stoned, the temperature may be raised to 60° or 65° by day and 60° by night; and for ripening off it may be allowed to reach 70° or 80° by sun heat.

The Moorpark is one of the best and most useful sorts in cultivation, and should be planted for all general purposes; the Peach is a very similar variety, not quite identical; and the Hemskerk is also similar, but hardier. The Large Early, which ripens in the end of July and beginning of August, and the Kaisha, a sweet-kernelled variety, which ripens in the middle of August, are also to be recommended. For standard trees in favourable localities the Breda and. Brussels may be added.

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Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus
Section: Armeniaca
Species: P. armeniaca
Binomial name
Prunus armeniaca

[[File:|thumb|Two apricots, with a branch of apricots in the background]] Apricot is a drupe fruit. It is closely related to the plum.


  • Plant: Small to medium sized tree, 8–12 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm in diameter with spreading, dense canopy; leaves are shaped somewhat like a heart, with pointed tips, about 8 cm (1/3 inch) wide.
  • Flowers: Flowers are white to pinkish in color.
  • Fruit: The fruit has only one seed; the color runs from yellow to orange and may have a red cast; the surface of the fruit is smooth and nearly hairless.

Other pages

Other websites

Look up Prunus armeniaca in Wikispecies, a directory of species


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