Apricot

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Apricot and its cross-section Apricot and cross section.jpg
Apricot and its cross-section

An apricot ( US: /ˈæprɪkɒt/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), UK: /ˈprɪkɒt/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a fruit, or the tree that bears the fruit, of several species in the genus Prunus (stone fruits).

Contents

Usually, an apricot tree is from the species P. armeniaca , but the species P. brigantina , P. mandshurica , P. mume , P. zhengheensis and P. sibirica are closely related, have similar fruit, and are also called apricots. [1]

Etymology

Map of the etymology of 'Apricot' from Latin via Late and Byzantine Greek to Arabic, Spanish and Catalan, Middle French and so to English Apricot Etymology Map.svg
Map of the etymology of 'Apricot' from Latin via Late and Byzantine Greek to Arabic, Spanish and Catalan, Middle French and so to English

Apricot first appeared in English in the 16th century as abrecock from the Middle French, aubercot, or later from Portuguese, albricoque. [2] The scientific name armeniaca was first used by Gaspard Bauhin in his Pinax Theatri Botanici (1623), referring to the species as Mala armeniaca "Armenian apple". Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753, Prunus armeniaca. [3]

Description

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" or "kernel", with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side. [4] [5]

Apricot leaves Healthy leaves of apricot.jpg
Apricot leaves

Cultivation and uses

History

Preparing apricots in the grounds of Alchi Monastery, Ladakh, India Preparing apricots. Alchi Monastery, Ladakh.jpg
Preparing apricots in the grounds of Alchi Monastery, Ladakh, India

The origin of the apricot is disputed; it was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there. [6] An archaeological excavation at Garni in Armenia found apricot seeds in a Chalcolithic-era site. [7] Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption. For example, the Belgian arborist Baron de Poerderlé, writing in the 1770s, 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 ..."). [8]

Despite the great number of varieties of apricots that are grown in Armenia today (about 50), [6] according to the Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov, its center of origin would be the Chinese region, where the domestication of the apricot would have taken place. Other sources say that the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC. [9] Beginning in about 7th century apricots in China have been preserved by various methods including salting and smoking and the more common drying. Hupei is noted for its black smoked apricots. [10]

Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great. [9] Subsequent sources were often confused about the origin of the species. John Claudius Loudon (1838) believed it had a wide native range including Armenia, the Caucasus, the Himalayas, China, and Japan. [11]

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.[ citation needed ]

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

In England during the 17th century, apricot oil was used in herbalism treatments intended to act against tumors, swelling, and ulcers. [12]

In the 17th century, 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. [13]

Cultivation practices

Dried apricot fruits Dried apricot fruits in the field (Fergana, Uzbekistan).jpg
Dried apricot fruits

Apricots have a chilling requirement of 300 to 900 chilling units. A dry climate is good for fruit maturation. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C (−22 °F) or lower if healthy. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. A limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early (in early March in western Europe), 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 (−58 °F) but with less palatable fruit) offers options for breeding more cold-tolerant plants. [14] They prefer well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Apricot cultivars are usually grafted onto plum or peach rootstocks. The cultivar scion provides the fruit characteristics, such as flavour and size, but the rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant. Some of the more popular US apricot cultivars are 'Blenheim', 'Wenatchee Moorpark', 'Tilton', and 'Perfection'. Some apricot cultivars are self-compatible and do not require pollinizer trees; others are not: 'Moongold' and 'Sungold', for example, must be planted in pairs so that they can pollinate each other.

Hybridisors 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 are variously called plumcots, apriplums, pluots, or apriums.

Apricot production (tonnes)
Country2017
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey
985,000
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan
532,565
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
266,372
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria
256,890
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran
239,712
World
4,257,241
Source: FAOSTAT, United Nations [15]

Pests and diseases

Apricots are susceptible to various diseases whose relative importance is different in the major production regions as a consequence of their climatic differences. For example, hot weather as experienced in California's Central Valley will often cause pit burn, a condition of soft and brown fruit around the pit. [16] Bacterial diseases include bacterial spot and crown gall. Fungal diseases include brown rot caused by Monilinia fructicola : infection of the blossom by rainfall leads to "blossom wilt" [17] whereby the blossoms and young shoots turn brown and die; the twigs die back in a severe attack; brown rot of the fruit is due to Monilinia infection later in the season. Dieback of branches in the summer is attributed to the fungus Eutypa lata , where examination of the base of the dead branch will reveal a canker surrounding a pruning wound. [18] Other fungal diseases are black knot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew. [19] Unlike peaches, apricots are not affected by leaf curl, and bacterial canker (causing sunken patches in the bark which then spread and kill the affected branch or tree) and silver leaf are not serious threats, which means that pruning in late winter is considered safe. [17]

Production

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, world production of apricots in 2017 was 4.3 million tonnes, led by Turkey with 23% of the world total (table). Other major producers (in descending order) were Uzbekistan, Italy, Algeria, and Iran. [15]

Nutrition

Apricots, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,009 kJ (241 kcal)
63 g
Sugars 53 g
Dietary fibre 7 g
Fat
0.5 g
3.4 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
23%
180 μg
20%
2163 μg
Thiamine (B1)
1%
0.015 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
6%
0.074 mg
Niacin (B3)
17%
2.589 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
10%
0.516 mg
Vitamin B6
11%
0.143 mg
Folate (B9)
3%
10 μg
Vitamin C
1%
1 mg
Vitamin E
29%
4.33 mg
Vitamin K
3%
3.1 μg
Minerals Quantity%DV
Calcium
6%
55 mg
Iron
20%
2.66 mg
Magnesium
9%
32 mg
Manganese
11%
0.235 mg
Phosphorus
10%
71 mg
Potassium
25%
1162 mg
Sodium
1%
10 mg
Zinc
3%
0.29 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Apricots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 201 kJ (48 kcal)
11 g
Sugars 9 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Fat
0.4 g
1.4 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
12%
96 μg
10%
1094 μg
89 μg
Thiamine (B1)
3%
0.03 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
3%
0.04 mg
Niacin (B3)
4%
0.6 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
5%
0.24 mg
Vitamin B6
4%
0.054 mg
Folate (B9)
2%
9 μg
Vitamin C
12%
10 mg
Vitamin E
6%
0.89 mg
Vitamin K
3%
3.3 μg
Minerals Quantity%DV
Calcium
1%
13 mg
Iron
3%
0.4 mg
Magnesium
3%
10 mg
Manganese
4%
0.077 mg
Phosphorus
3%
23 mg
Potassium
6%
259 mg
Sodium
0%
1 mg
Zinc
2%
0.2 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water86 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

In a 100-gram amount, raw apricots supply 48 calories and are composed of 11% carbohydrates, 1% protein, less than 1% fat and 86% water (table). Raw apricots are a moderate source of vitamin A and vitamin C (12% of the Daily Value each).

Dried apricots

Dried apricots are a type of traditional dried fruit. The world's largest producer of dried apricots is Turkey. [20] When treated with sulfur dioxide (E220), the color is vivid orange. Organic fruit not treated with sulfur dioxide is darker in color and has a coarser texture. When apricots are dried, the relative concentration of nutrients is increased, with vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium and iron having Daily Values above 25% (table).

Phytochemicals

Apricots contain various phytochemicals, such as provitamin A beta-carotene and polyphenols, including catechins and chlorogenic acid. [21] Taste and aroma compounds include sucrose, glucose, organic acids, terpenes, aldehydes and lactones. [22]

Apricot kernels (seeds) contain amygdalin, a poisonous compound. On average, bitter apricot kernels contain about 5% amygdalin and sweet kernels about 0.9% amygdalin. These values correspond to 0.3% and 0.05% of cyanide. Since a typical apricot kernel weighs 600 mg, bitter and sweet varieties contain respectively 1.8 and 0.3 mg of cyanide.

In culture

The apricot is the national fruit of Armenia, mostly growing in the Ararat plain. [23] [24] It is often depicted on souvenirs. [25]

The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. For instance, the classical word (literally: "apricot altar") (xìng tán 杏坛) which means "educational circle", is still widely used in written language. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher in the fourth century BC, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees. [26] 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 upon recovering from their illnesses, resulting in a large grove of apricot trees and a steady supply of medicinal ingredients. [27] The term "expert of the apricot grove" (杏林高手) is still used as a poetic reference to physicians.[ citation needed ]

The fact that apricot season is short has given rise to the 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.

In Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, apricots are used to make Qamar al-Din (lit. "Moon of the Religion"), a thick apricot drink that is a popular fixture at Iftar during Ramadan. Qamar al-Din is believed to originate in Damascus, Syria, where the variety of apricots most suitable for the drink was first grown. [28] [29]

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".

In the US Marines it is considered exceptionally bad luck to eat or possess apricots, [30] especially near tanks. [31] This superstition has been documented since at least the Vietnam War and is often cited as originating in World War II. Even naming them is considered unlucky, [32] so they are instead called "cots", [33] "Forbidden fruit" or "A-fruit".

See also

Related Research Articles

Almond Species of plant

The almond is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries but widely cultivated elsewhere. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.

Amygdalin chemical compound

Amygdalin is a naturally occurring chemical compound best known for being falsely promoted as a cancer cure. It is found in many plants, but most notably in the seeds (kernels) of apricots, bitter almonds, apples, peaches, and plums.

Peach a type of fruit tree, or its fruit

The peach is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach or a nectarine.

Plum subgenus of plants

A plum is a fruit of the subgenus Prunus of the genus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having terminal bud and solitary side buds, the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one side and a smooth stone.

<i>Prunus</i> genus of plants

Prunus is a genus of trees and shrubs, which includes the fruits plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and almonds.

<i>Prunus mume</i> species of plant

Prunus mume is an East Asian tree species classified in the Armeniaca section of the genus Prunus subgenus Prunus. Its common names include Chinese plum,Japanese plum and Japanese apricot. The flower, long a beloved subject in the traditional painting and poetry of East Asia, is usually called plum blossom. This distinct tree species is related to both the plum and apricot trees. Although generally referred to as a plum in English, it is more closely related to the apricot. In Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cooking, the fruit of the tree is used in juices, as a flavouring for alcohol, as a pickle and in sauces. It is also used in traditional medicine.

<i>Prunus laurocerasus</i> Species of plant

Prunus laurocerasus, also known as cherry laurel, common laurel and sometimes English laurel in North America, is an evergreen species of cherry (Prunus), native to regions bordering the Black Sea in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, from Albania and Bulgaria east through Turkey to the Caucasus Mountains and northern Iran.

<i>Prunus armeniaca</i> species of plant, apricot

Prunus armeniaca, the most commonly cultivated apricot species, also called ansu apricot, Siberian apricot, Tibetan apricot, 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, though almost certainly somewhere in Asia. It is extensively cultivated in many countries and has escaped into the wild in many places.

Loquat Species of plant

The loquat is a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae, a native to the cooler hill regions of south-central China. It is also commonly found in Japan, Korea, northern parts of the Philippines, Himachal Pradesh in India, the Pothohar Plateau in Pakistan, and hilly regions in Sri Lanka. It can also be found in southern European countries such as Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Italy, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Spain and Portugal, several northern African countries including Morocco and Algeria, and in countries in the Middle East such as Israel, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon. as well as in parts of East Africa, like regions of Kenya.

Cherry plum Species of plum

Prunus cerasifera is a species of plum known by the common names cherry plum and myrobalan plum. It is native to Southeast Europe and Western Asia, and is naturalised in the British Isles and scattered locations in North America. Also naturalized in parts of SE Australia where it is considered to be a mildly invasive weed of bushland near urban centers.

<i>Prunus salicina</i> species of plant

Prunus salicina, commonly called the Japanese plum or Chinese plum, is a small deciduous tree native to China. It is now also grown in fruit orchards in Korea, Japan, the United States, and Australia.

Plum pox, also known as sharka, is the most devastating viral disease of stone fruit from the genus Prunus. The disease is caused by the plum pox virus (PPV), and the different strains may infect a variety of stone fruit species including peaches, apricots, plums, nectarine, almonds, and sweet and tart cherries. Wild and ornamental species of Prunus may also become infected by some strains of the virus.

<i>Prunus maritima</i> species of plant

Prunus maritima, the beach plum, is a species of plum native to the East Coast of the United States, from Maine south to Maryland. Although sometimes listed as extending to New Brunswick, the species is not known from collections there, and does not appear in the most authoritative works on the flora of that Canadian province.

Apricot oil vegetable oil

Apricot oil or apricot kernel oil is pressed from the kernels of the Prunus armeniaca (apricot). Apricot kernels have an oil content of 40-50%. The oil is similar to almond oil and peach oil, both of which are also extracted from the kernels of the respective fruit.

Prunus necrotic ringspot virus Species of virus

Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) is a plant pathogenic virus causing ring spot diseases affecting species of the genus Prunus, as well as other species such as rose and hops. PNRSV is found worldwide due to easy transmission through plant propagation methods and infected seed. The virus is in the family Bromoviridae and genus Ilarvirus. Synonyms of PNRSV include European plum line pattern virus, hop B virus, hop C virus, plum line pattern virus, sour cherry necrotic ringspot virus, and peach ringspot virus.

<i>Prunus avium</i> species of plant

Prunus avium, commonly called wild cherry, sweet cherry, or gean, is a species of cherry, a flowering plant in the rose family, Rosaceae. It is native to Europe, Anatolia, Maghreb, and Western Asia, from the British Isles south to Morocco and Tunisia, north to the Trondheimsfjord region in Norway and east to the Caucasus and northern Iran, with a small isolated population in the western Himalaya. The species is widely cultivated in other regions and has become naturalized in North America and Australia.

<i>Prunus brigantina</i> species of plant

Prunus brigantina, called Briançon apricot, marmot plum, and alpine apricot, is a wild tree species native to France and Italy. It is the only apricot-like Prunus species native to Europe.

<i>Prunus sibirica</i> Species of plant

Prunus sibirica, called Siberian apricot, is a species of shrub or small tree native to eastern China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and eastern Siberia. It is in the genus Prunus in the rose family, Rosaceae, one of several species whose fruit are called apricot, although this species is rarely cultivated for its fruit. The species was named by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

<i>Prunus mandshurica</i> species of apricot tree

Prunus mandshurica, called Manchurian apricot and Scout apricot, is a tree in the genus Prunus.

<i>Prunus simonii</i> tree in the genus Prunus

Prunus simonii, called apricot plum and Simon plum, is a tree in the genus Prunus. It was first described by Elie-Abel Carrière in 1872 and is native to Hebei province, China. The species is not known in a truly wild state. It has been important for breeding commercial plum cultivars from crosses with other species of the genus Prunus. The species is named for Gabriel Eugène Simon (1829–1896), a French botanist and diplomat who sent pits to the Paris Museum in the early 1860s while he was representing the French government in China. Beginning about 1881, the species became commonly known in the United States; having been introduced there from France.

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