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PRUNUS armeniaca

Image of Prunus armeniaca

Scott Bauer, USDA/ARS

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

PRUNUS armeniaca

Plant Common Name

Apricot

General Description

This deciduous fruit bearing tree is the parent of most modern apricot cultivars. Native to Northeast China, and introduced to cultivation there more than 3,000 years ago, the apricot reached southeastern Europe via Armenia or Persia in about 70 BC. It was later introduced to Spain by the Arabs. It arrived in England and the eastern United States in the seventeenth century; Spanish missionaries brought it to California in the eighteenth century. Few selections were made until the nineteenth century.

Apricot trees are small to medium-sized, with spreading branches studded with short spur-like branchlets. The oval, bright green leaves have serrated edges and reddish purple petioles (stems). In late winter or early spring, pinkish white five-petaled flowers are borne on the spurs and on one-year-old wood. The slightly flattened, spherical, pitted fruits mature about 3 or 4 months after the flowers bloom, ripening to orange or yellow, often with a red blush. Most modern cultivars are self-fruitful, requiring no cross pollination. Apricots are usually grown as standard-sized trees, although genetic and grafted dwarf trees are sometimes cultivated.

Although apricot trees are quite cold hardy, their early flowers are susceptible to freeze damage, and their flower buds may be killed if mild winter spells are followed by bitter cold. Additionally, the fruits of many varieties are prone to rot in cool or damp summers. Plants do best in full sun, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil, and an exposure (such as an east slope) not subject to strong winter sun and late frosts. Chilling requirements for apricot cultivars vary widely: 300 to 1200 hours per winter of temperatures between freezing and 7 degrees Celsius (45 F). Cultivars adapted to various regions of the United States and Canada (including California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Upper Midwest) are available. Choose a cultivar appropriate to the region. California produces more than 90 percent of the apricot crop in the United States.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 9

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    15'-35' / 4.6m - 10.7m

  • Width

    15'-35' / 4.6m - 10.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Orange, Rose

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Red, Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Edible, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No