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The scientific name for the apricot is Prunus armeniaca L, which puts it in the same subgenus as the plum (Prunophora).

Larger apricot

Table of contents


  • Plant: Small to medium sized tree with spreading, dense [[canopy]; leaves are shaped somewhat like a heart, with pointed tips, about 8 cm (1/3 inch) wide.
  • Flowers: Flowers are white to pinkish in color.
  • Fruit: The fruit has only one seed; the color runs from yellow to orange and may have a red cast; the surface of the fruit is smooth and nearly hairless.


The apricot originated in northeastern China near the Russian border, not in Armenia as the scientific name suggests. It did arrive in Armenia after moving through central Asia, which took about 3,000 years. The Romans brought it into Europe through Greece about 70 BC. While English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New Word, most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish Missionaries.

Medicinal and non-food uses

Cyanogenic glycosides found in most stone fruit seeds, bark and leaves are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. The drug laetrile, a purported treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. As early as AD 502 apricot seeds were used to treat tumors and in the 17th century apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers. Seeds of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they may be substituted for almonds. Oil expressed from these varieties has been used as cooking oil.

Cultural aspects In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and is used in this context in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Webster's The Duchess of Malfi[?]. Dreaming of apricots, in English folklore, is said to be good luck, though the Chinese believe the fruit is a symbol of cowardice.

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