Apricot

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

Apricot
Apricot and its cross-section
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus subg. Prunus
Section: Prunus sect. Armeniaca
(Scop.) Koch
Species

See text.

Usually, an apricot is from the species P. armeniaca, but the fruits of the other species in Prunus sect. Armeniaca 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 first appeared in English in the 16th century as abrecock from the Middle French aubercot or later abricot,[2] from Spanish albaricoque and Catalan a(l)bercoc, in turn from Arabic الْبَرْقُوق‎ (al-barqūq, "the plums"), from Byzantine Greek βερικοκκίᾱ (berikokkíā, "apricot tree"), derived from late Greek πραικόκιον (praikókion, "apricot") from Latin [persica ("peach")] praecocia (praecoquus, "early ripening").[3][4][5]

Species

Apricots are species belonging to Prunus sect. Armeniaca. The taxonomic position of P. brigantina is disputed. It is grouped with plum species according to chloroplast DNA sequences,[6] but more closely related to apricot species according to nuclear DNA sequences.[7]

  • Prunus armeniaca – common apricot, widely cultivated for its edible fruit and kernel
  • Prunus brigantina – Briançon apricot, native to Europe, cultivated for its edible fruit and oil-producing kernel
  • Prunus cathayana - native to Hebei
  • Prunus × dasycarpa – purple apricot, cultivated in Central Asia and adjacent areas for its edible fruit
  • Prunus hongpingensis – Hongping apricot, native to Shennongjia, cultivated for its edible fruit
  • Prunus hypotrichodes – native to Chongqing
  • Prunus limeixing – cultivated in northern China for its edible fruit
  • Prunus mandshurica – Manchurian apricot, native to Northeast Asia, cultivated for its kernel, the fruits of some cultivars edible
  • Prunus mume – Japanese apricot, native to southern China, widely cultivated for its beautiful blossom and edible fruit
  • Prunus sibirica – Siberian apricot, native to Siberia, Mongolia, northern China, and Korea, cultivated for its kernel
  • Prunus zhengheensis – Zhenghe apricot, native to Fujian

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.[8][9]

Apricot leaves

Cultivation and uses

Preparing apricots in the grounds of Alchi Monastery, Ladakh, India
David Packard's apricot orchard in Los Altos Hills, preserved by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is one of the few remaining in Santa Clara County, where apricots were a major crop before the urban sprawl of Silicon Valley.

Prunus armeniaca

The most commonly cultivated apricot P. armeniaca was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it was previously thought to have originated there, hence the epithet of its scientific name.[10] However, this is not supported by genetic studies, which instead confirm the hypothesis proposed by Nikolai Vavilov that domestication of P. armeniaca occurred in Central Asia and China.[11][12] The domesticated apricot then diffused south to South Asia,[11] west to West Asia (including Armenia), Europe and North Africa, and east to Japan.[12]

Prunus mume

Japanese apricot P. mume is another widely cultivated apricot species, usually for ornamental uses. Despite the common name, its center of origin is China, and it was introduced to other parts of East Asia in ancient times.

Cultivation practices

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. Hybridization 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.[13] 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, so do not require pollinizer trees; others are not: 'Moongold' and 'Sungold', for example, must be planted in pairs so 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
(millions of tonnes)
Country 2019
 Turkey0.85
 Uzbekistan0.54
 Iran0.33
 Italy0.27
 Algeria0.21
World4.1
Source: FAOSTAT, United Nations[14]

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 often causes pit burn, a condition of soft and brown fruit around the pit.[15] 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"[16] 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 reveals a canker surrounding a pruning wound.[17] Other fungal diseases are black knot, Alternaria spot and fruit rot, and powdery mildew.[18] 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.[16]

Production

In 2019, world production of apricots was 4.1 million tonnes, led by Turkey with 21% of the world total (table). Other major producers (in descending order) were Uzbekistan, Iran, Italy, and Algeria.[14]

Nutrition

Apricots, dried
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,009 kJ (241 kcal)
63 g
Sugars53 g
Dietary fibre7 g
0.5 g
3.4 g
VitaminsQuantity %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
MineralsQuantity %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

  • Units
  • μg = micrograms  mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central
Apricots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy201 kJ (48 kcal)
11 g
Sugars9 g
Dietary fiber2 g
0.4 g
1.4 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Vitamin A equiv.
lutein zeaxanthin
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
MineralsQuantity %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

  • Units
  • μg = micrograms  mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

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.[19] 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.[20] Taste and aroma compounds include sucrose, glucose, organic acids, terpenes, aldehydes and lactones.[21]

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.[22][23] It is often depicted on souvenirs.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] The term "expert of the apricot grove" (杏林高手) is still used as a poetic reference to physicians.

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.[27][28]

In Jewish culture, apricots are commonly eaten as part of the Tu Bishvat seder.[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

  • Barack (brandy)
  • Apricot plum, Prunus simonii

References

  1. Shi, Shuo; Li, Jinlu; Sun, Jiahui; Yu, Jing; Zhou, Shiliang (2013). "Phylogeny and classification of Prunus sensu lato (Rosaceae)". Journal of Integrative Plant Biology. 55 (11): 1069–1079. doi:10.1111/jipb.12095. ISSN 1744-7909. PMID 23945216.
  2. "abricot (French)". Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales.
  3. "apricot". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  4. "apricot". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  5. Dean, Sam (9 May 2013). "On the Etymology of the Word Apricot". Bon Appetit. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  6. Reales, Antonio; Sargent, Daniel J.; Tobutt, Ken R.; Rivera, Diego (2010-01-01). "Phylogenetics of Eurasian plums, Prunus L. section Prunus (Rosaceae), according to coding and non-coding chloroplast DNA sequences". Tree Genetics & Genomes. 6 (1): 37–45. doi:10.1007/s11295-009-0226-9. ISSN 1614-2950.
  7. Liu, Shuo; Decroocq, Stephane; Harte, Elodie; Tricon, David; Chague, Aurelie; Balakishiyeva, Gulnara; Kostritsyna, Tatiana; Turdiev, Timur; Saux, Marion Fisher-Le; Dallot, Sylvie; Giraud, Tatiana (2021-01-05). "Genetic diversity and population structure analyses in the Alpine plum (Prunus brigantina Vill.) confirm its affiliation to the Armeniaca section". Tree Genetics & Genomes. 17 (1): 2. doi:10.1007/s11295-020-01484-6. ISSN 1614-2950.
  8. Flora of China: Armeniaca vulgaris
  9. Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  10. "VII Symposium on Apricot Culture and Decline". International Society for Horticultural Science. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  11. Liu, Shuo; Cornille, Amandine; Decroocq, Stéphane; Tricon, David; Chague, Aurélie; Eyquard, Jean-Philippe; Liu, Wei-Sheng; Giraud, Tatiana; Decroocq, Véronique (2019). "The complex evolutionary history of apricots: Species divergence, gene flow and multiple domestication events". Molecular Ecology. 28 (24): 5299–5314. doi:10.1111/mec.15296. ISSN 1365-294X. PMID 31677192. S2CID 207833328.
  12. Bourguiba, Hedia; Scotti, Ivan; Sauvage, Christopher; Zhebentyayeva, Tetyana; Ledbetter, Craig; Krška, Boris; Remay, Arnaud; D’Onofrio, Claudio; Iketani, Hiroyuki; Christen, Danilo; Krichen, Lamia (2020). "Genetic structure of a worldwide germplasm collection of Prunus armeniaca L. reveals three major diffusion routes for varieties coming from the species' center of origin". Frontiers in Plant Science. 11: 638. doi:10.3389/fpls.2020.00638. ISSN 1664-462X. PMC 7261834. PMID 32523597.
  13. "Prunus sibirica Siberian Apricot PFAF Plant Database". pfaf.org.
  14. "Production Quantities of Apricots by Country in 2019; Crops/World Regions/Production Quantity from picklists". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Statistics Division (FAOSTAT). 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  15. Ingels, Chuck; et al. (2007). The Home Orchard: Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-879906-72-3.
  16. Hessayon, D.G. (2004). The Fruit Expert. London: Expert Books.
  17. Munkvold, Gary P. (2001). "Eutypa Dieback of Grapevine and Apricot". Plant Health Progress. 2: 9. doi:10.1094/PHP-2001-0219-01-DG.
  18. Diseases of Apricot Archived 2016-06-24 at the Wayback Machine. The American Phytopathological Society
  19. Smith, Andrew F. (ed.) (2007). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195307962. p. 22.
  20. Campbell, O. E.; Merwin, I. A.; Padilla-Zakour, O. I. (2013). "Characterization and the effect of maturity at harvest on the phenolic and carotenoid content of Northeast USA Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) varieties". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 61 (51): 12700–10. doi:10.1021/jf403644r. PMID 24328399.
  21. Xi, W; Zheng, H; Zhang, Q; Li, W (2016). "Profiling Taste and Aroma Compound Metabolism during Apricot Fruit Development and Ripening". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 17 (7): 998. doi:10.3390/ijms17070998. PMC 4964374. PMID 27347931.
  22. Lehmann, Maike (2015). "Apricot Socialism: The National Past, the Soviet Project, and the Imagining of Community in Late Soviet Armenia". Slavic Review. 74 (1): 13. doi:10.5612/slavicreview.74.1.9. The apricot, being the Armenian national fruit...
  23. Grigoryan, Marianna (25 June 2010). "Apricot Farmers Struggling in Armenia amid Crop Failure". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  24. Schleifer, Yigal (2 July 2010). "More on Armenia's Bitter Apricot Harvest". EurasiaNet. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018. As a symbol of national pride the image of apricots is included in Armenian souvenirs.
  25. "《莊子·漁父》". Ctext.org. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  26. Guo, Zhaojiang (1995). "Chinese Confucian culture and the medical ethical tradition". Journal of Medical Ethics. 21 (4): 239–246. doi:10.1136/jme.21.4.239. PMC 1376720. PMID 7473645.
  27. Robertson, Amy (2017-06-08). "All Over The World, Thirsty Muslims Have Their Ramadan Go-To Drinks". NPR. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  28. Denker, Joel (2016-06-14). "'Moon Of The Faith:' A History Of The Apricot And Its Many Pleasures". NPR. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  29. Hornik, P. David. "Tu Bishvat, Israel's Holiday of Trees". pjmedia.com. Retrieved 2021-03-06.
  30. S.SGT. Bob Donner. "Taste for Apricots Canned at Cua Viet". US Marines Armored Tractor Division.
  31. Cpl. Derek A. Shoemake (October 27, 2000). "Apricots, AAVs no happy pair".
  32. Michael M. Phillips (March 3, 2003). "Superstitions Abound at Camp As Soldiers Await War in Iraq".
  33. Paul Dickson (1994). War Slang: American Fighting Words & Phrases Since the Civil War. Pocket Books. p. 267. ISBN 9780671750220.
  • The dictionary definition of apricot at Wiktionary
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