Apricot


Apricot
Apricot
Apricot fruits
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Prunus
Section: Armeniaca
Species: P. armeniaca
Binomial name
Prunus armeniaca
L.
Synonyms

Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.[1] Amygdalus armeniaca (L.) Dumort.[1]

The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, 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.

Contents

Description

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 can be smooth (botanically described as: glabrous) or with very short hairs (botanically: 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 (12%)
- beta-carotene 1094 μg (10%)
Vitamin C 10 mg (12%)
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 (23%)
- beta-carotene 2163 μg (20%)
Vitamin C 1 mg (1%)
Iron 2.7 mg (21%)
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 that it is often thought to have originated 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.

Cultivation

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 the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, it can grow in Mediterranean climates if there is some cool winter weather to allow a proper dormancy. The dry climate of these areas is good for fruit maturation. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as −30 °C or lower if healthy. A limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, meaning spring frost can kill 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. 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. The scion from 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 plumcots, apriplums, pluots, 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[citation needed]. 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, black knot, 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 twelve apricot producers—2009
(1,000 tonnes)
 Turkey 695
 Iran 398
 Uzbekistan 290
 Italy 234
 Algeria 203
 Pakistan 194
 France 190
 Morocco 123
 Ukraine 116
 Japan 115
 Egypt 100
 Syria 99
World total 3800
Source:[12]

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

Kernels

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 cultivar kernels, and known as 'Oil of Almond', has been used as cooking oil. Kernels contain between 2.05% and 2.40% hydrocyanic acid, but normal consumption is insufficient to produce serious effects.[14][clarification needed]

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. Apricot seeds "were used against tumors as early as A.D. 502. In England during the seventeenth century, apricot oil was also used against tumors, swellings, and ulcers".[15] In 2005, scientists in the Republic of Korea found that treating human prostate cancer cells with amygdalin induces programmed cell death. They concluded that "amygdalin may offer a valuable option for the treatment of prostate cancers".[16]

A 2006 systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded: "The claim that [l]aetrile has beneficial effects for cancer patients is not supported by data from controlled clinical trials. This systematic review has clearly identified the need for randomised or controlled clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of [l]aetrile or amygdalin for cancer treatment."[17] Given the lack of evidence, laetrile has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[18]

The U.S. National Institutes of Health evaluated the evidence separately and concluded that clinical trials of amgydalin showed little or no effect against cancer.[19] For example, a 1982 trial of 175 patients found that tumor size had increased in all but one patient.[20] The authors reported that "the hazards of amygdalin therapy were evidenced in several patients by symptoms of cyanide toxicity or by blood cyanide levels approaching the lethal range."[21]

The study concluded that "Patients exposed to this agent should be instructed about the danger of cyanide poisoning, and their blood cyanide levels should be carefully monitored. Amygdalin (Laetrile) is a toxic drug that is not effective as a cancer treatment".

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 may help to 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.[22] In traditional Chinese medicine, apricots are considered helpful in regenerating body fluids, detoxifying, and quenching thirst[citation needed].

Etymology

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". It is sometimes stated that this came from Pliny the Elder, but it was not used by Pliny. Linnaeus took up Bauhin's epithet in the first edition of his Species Plantarum in 1753.[23]

The name apricot is probably derived from a tree mentioned as praecocia by Pliny. Pliny says "We give the name of apples (mala) ... to peaches (persica) and pomegranates (granata) ..."[24] 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 ...".

The classical authors connected Greek armeniaca with Latin praecocia:[25] Pedanius Dioscorides' " ... Ἀρμενιακὰ, Ῥωμαιστὶ δὲ βρεκόκκια"[26] and Martial's "Armeniaca, et praecocia latine dicuntur".[27] 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" [in this case meaning early ripening], 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.[28] Both the Catalan and the Spanish albaricoque were adaptations of the Arabic, dating from the Moorish rule of Spain.

However, in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, the word for "apricot" is damasco, which could indicate that, to the Spanish settlers of Argentina, the fruit was associated with Damascus in Syria.[29] The word damasco is also the word for "apricot" in Portuguese (both European and Brazilian, though in Portugal the word alperce is also used).

In culture

An Armenian stamp.

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, told a story that Confucius taught his students in a forum surrounded by the wood of apricot trees.[30] 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 on recovering from their illnesses, resulting in a large grove of apricot trees and a steady supply of medicinal ingredients. 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 very short has given rise to the very 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.

Among United States Marine Corps tank-driving Marines, apricots are taboo, by superstition. Marine Corps tankers will not eat apricots, allow apricots onto their vehicles, and often will not even say the word "apricot". This superstition stems from Marine Sherman tank breakdowns purportedly having happened in the presence of apricot cans.[31]

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

References

  1. ^ a b USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)
  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. ^ Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa - Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962)
  15. ^ Lewis, WH and Elvin-Lewis, MPF (2003). Medical botany: plants affecting human health. Hoboken, New Jersey; John Wiley & Sons. Page 214.
  16. ^ Chang, Hyun-Kyung, et al. (2006). "Amygdalin induces apoptosis through regulation of Bax and Bcl-2 expressions in human DU145 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells". Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 29(8), pp. 1597–1602. doi:10.1248/bpb.29.1597. PMID 16880611.
  17. ^ Milazzo S, Ernst E, Lejeune S, Schmidt K (2006). Milazzo, Stefania. ed. "Laetrile treatment for cancer". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD005476. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005476.pub2. PMID 16625640. 
  18. ^ What is laetrile?, National Cancer Institute, Retrieved on 14 January 2007
  19. ^ Laetrile/Amygdalin - National Cancer Institute
  20. ^ http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/laetrile
  21. ^ Moertel CG, Fleming TR, Rubin J (January 1982). "A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer". N. Engl. J. Med. 306 (4): 201–6. doi:10.1007/s00520-006-0168-9. PMID 7033783. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/306/4/201. 
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 1:474.
  24. ^ N.H. Book XV Chapter XI, Rackham translation from the Loeb edition.
  25. ^ Holland, Philemon (1601). "The XV. Booke of the Historie of Nature, Written by Plinius Secundus: Chap. XIII". Bill Thayer at penelope.uchicago.edu. pp. Note 31 by Thayer relates some scholarship of Jean Hardouin making the connection. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/holland/pliny15.html#b31a.  Holland's chapter enumeration varies from Pliny's.
  26. ^ De Materia Medica Book I Chapter 115.
  27. ^ Epigram XIII Line 46.
  28. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary under Apricot.
  29. ^ "DICTIONARY > english–latin american spanish" (pdf). http://www.lonelyplanet.com/shop_pickandmix/previews/latin-america-spanish-dictionaries-preview.pdf. 
  30. ^ 《莊子·漁父》
  31. ^ Marines Magazine – Marine Corps superstitions

External links


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  • Apricot — A pri*cot, n. [OE. apricock, abricot, F. abricot, fr. Sp. albaricoque or Pg. albricoque, fr. Ar. albirq[=u]q, al burq[=u]q. Though the E. and F. form abricot is derived from the Arabic through the Spanish, yet the Arabic word itself was formed… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apricot — (n.) 1550s, abrecock, from Catalan abercoc, related to Port. albricoque, from Arabic al birquq, through Byzantine Gk. berikokkia from L. (malum) praecoquum early ripening (fruit) (see PRECOCIOUS (Cf. precocious)). Form assimilated to Fr. abricot …   Etymology dictionary

  • apricot — ► NOUN ▪ an orange yellow fruit resembling a small peach. ORIGIN Portuguese albricoque or Spanish albaricoque, from an Arabic word based on Latin praecox early ripe …   English terms dictionary

  • apricot — [ap′ri kät΄, ā′prikät΄] n. [Fr abricot < Port albricoque < Ar al birqūq < LGr praikokion < L praecoquum, early matured (fruit) < prae , beforehand + coquere, ripen, COOK] 1. a small, yellowish orange fruit that is closely related… …   English World dictionary

  • apricot — /ap ri kot , ay pri /, n. 1. the downy, yellow, sometimes rosy fruit, somewhat resembling a small peach, of the tree Prunus armeniaca. 2. the tree itself. 3. a pinkish yellow or yellowish pink. 4. Also called wild apricot. Chiefly South Midland U …   Universalium

  • Apricot PC — The Apricot PC was Apricot Computers first personal computer made for business use. It had two 3.5 floppy drives and a keyboard with an LCD screen. It was released in 1983, and achieved success in the UK. Although it ran MS DOS and CP/M, it was… …   Wikipedia

  • apricot — [[t]e͟ɪprɪkɒt[/t]] apricots 1) N VAR An apricot is a small, soft, round fruit with yellowish orange flesh and a stone inside. ...12 oz apricots, halved and stoned. ...apricot tart. 2) COLOUR Apricot is used to describe things that are yellowish… …   English dictionary

  • apricot — a|pri|cot [ˈeıprıkɔt US ˈæprıka:t] n [Date: 1500 1600; : French; Origin: abricot, from Arabic al birquq the apricot ] 1.) a small round fruit that is orange or yellow and has a single large seed 2.) [U] the orange yellow colour of an apricot… …   Dictionary of contemporary English


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