|Binomial name||Prunus armeniaca|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the apricot are Albaricoquero ,Aprecock , Apricock , Apricot, Apricot Tree , Arig , Chin Hsing , Hsing , Hsing Jen T'Ang , Hsing Jin ,Hsing Su , Jou Hsing , Kaise , Kayisi Agaci , Lai Hsing , Mei Hsing , Mish Mish , Mu Hsing , Qaisi , Sha Hsing and Shan Hsing.
Apricots originated on the Russian-Chinese border in about 3000 BC and were imported along with peach seed into Europe through the "Silk Road" that extended camelback trading to the Mideast.
Apricots were known in ancient Greece in 60 BC and later introduced into the Roman Empire. The apricot trees are believed to have arrived in the early American colonies in seed form for growing into fruit trees by the French explorers of the 1700's in Gulf regions and in the Eastern United States and at California monasteries by Spanish explorers and missionaries.
Apricots are small to medium sized trees with spreading canopies. They are generally kept under 12' in cultivation, but capable of reaching 45 ft in their native range. The one-year-old wood and spurs are thin, twiggy, and shorter lived than those of other stone fruits. Leaves are elliptic to cordate, with acute to acuminate tips, about 3" wide; wider than leaves of other stone fruits. Leaves have serrate margins and long, red-purple petioles.
Flowers are similar in morphology to peach, plum, and cherry. White flowers are borne solitary in leaf axils of 1-yr wood, or in leaf axils on short spurs and appear to be in clusters. There are 5 sepals and petals, many erect stamens, all of which emanate from the hypanthium or floral cup. Ovary position is perigynous.The fruit, which ripens end of July to mid-August, according to variety, is a drupe, like the plum, with a thin outer, downy skin enclosing the yellow flesh (mesocarp), the inner layers becoming woody and forming the large, smooth, compressed stone, the ovule ripening into the kernel, or seed.
Although formerly supposed to come from Armenia, where it was long cultivated, hence the name Armeniaca, there is now little doubt that its original habitat is northern China, the Himalaya region and other parts of temperate Asia. It is cultivated generally throughout temperate regions.
The plant prefers light sandy and medium loamy soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade light woodland or no shade. It requires moist soil.
TSeeds require 2 - 3 months of cold stratification and are best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel in July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame followed by layering in spring.
Apricots for fresh consumption or processing are picked by hand and carefully handled. Trees are usually picked over 2-3 times each, when fruit are firm. Trunk shaking can be used for processed fruit, although apricots are said to be more susceptible to trunk damage than other stone fruits. Fresh apricots are shipped in shallow containers to prevent crushing/bruising. Dried apricots are harvested later (fully ripe) than those for shipping, and exposed to SO2 to avoid post-harvest diseases. The drying ratio is 5.5:1 (lbs fresh fruit: lb dry fruit). Drying is either natural, in the sun, or in large dehydrators as with prunes. Canned apricots are immersed in syrup, at a ratio of 0.7 lbs fresh = 1 lb canned. Apricots have an extremely short shelf-life of only 1-2 weeks at 0� C and 90% relative humidity. They are susceptible to all post-harvest diseases to which other stone fruits are susceptible.
The fruits, kernels and the leaves are the most commonly used parts of the tree for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
The flowers appear in April, on the shoots of the preceding year, and on spurs of two or more year's growth, and the fruit ripens in July and August.
Pests and Diseases
The most common bacterial and fungal diseases are bacterial canker and blast, bacterial spot and crown gall. The other common fungal diseases include cytospora canker, dermatophora root rot, green fruit rot, leaf spot, phytophthora crown and root rot, silver leaf and verticullum wilt.
• Apricot oil makes an excellent choice for moisturizing devitalized, wrinkled skin, apricot oil is known for its ability to penetrate the skin without leaving an oily feel.
• Beta-carotene in apricot prevents the build-up of plaque deposits in the arteries, protects the eyes from sun damage and deactivates free radicals that, if left unchecked, accelerate the ageing process and increase the risk of cancer.
• It is used in the treatment of asthma, coughs, acute or chronic bronchitis and constipation.
• Apricots contain significant levels of iron, essential for haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in red blood cells.
• It acts as an inducer in childbirth.
• The flowers are tonic, promoting fecundity in women.
• Apricot oil was used in England against tumours and ulcers.
• The essential oil is used in confectionery and as a culinary flavouring.
• The oil has a softening effect on the skin and so it is used in perfumery and cosmetics, and also in pharmaceuticals.
• A green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
• It is often fraudulently added to genuine Almond oil and used in the manufacture of soaps, cold creams and other preparations of the perfumery trade.
• A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
• An edible gum is obtained from the trunk.
• Fruit is raw, cooked or dried for later use.
• The kernels of several varieties are edible and in Egypt, those of the Musch-musch variety form a considerable article of commerce.
Apricots are also cultivated in Egypt and are among the common fruits well known there. The season in which apricot is present in the market in Egypt is very short. There is even an Egyptian proverb that says "Fell mishmash" (English "in the apricot") which is used to refer to something that will not happen because the apricot disappears from the market in Egypt so shortly after it has appeared. Egyptians usually dry apricot and sweeten it then use it to make a drink called "ajar el den". The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine.
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. 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. Dreaming of apricots, in English folklore, is said to be good luck.