Botanical Name: Prunus Armeniaca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rosaceae
Synonyms: Apricock. Armeniaca vulgaris.
Parts Used: Kernels, oil.
Habitat: Although formerly supposed to come from Armenia, where it was long cultivated,hence the name Armeniaca, there is now little doubt that its original habitat is northernChina, the Himalaya region and other parts of temperate Asia. It is cultivated generallythroughout temperate regions. Introduced into England, from Italy, in Henry VIII’s reign.
Description-: A hardy tree, bearing stone fruit, closely related to the peach. The leavesare broad and roundish, with pointed apex; smooth; margin, finely serrated; petiole 1/2 inch to an inch long, generally tinged with red. The flowers are sessile, white, tinged with the same dusky red that appears on the petiole, with five regular sepals and petals and many stamens, and open very early in the spring. The fruit, which ripens end of July to mid-August, according to variety, is a drupe, like the plum, with a thin outer, downy skin enclosing the yellow flesh (mesocarp), the inner layers becoming woody and forming the large, smooth, compressed stone, the ovule ripening into the kernel, or seed. As a rule in Britain, the fruit rarely ripens unless the tree is trained against a wall; when growingnaturally, it is a medium-sized tree. It is propagated by budding on the musselplum stock. A great number of varieties are distinguished by cultivators. Large quantities of the fruit are imported from France. The kernels of several varieties are edible and in Egypt, those of the Musch-musch variety form a considerable article of commerce. Like those of the peach, apricot kernels contain constituents similar to those of the bitter almond: they are imported in large quantities from Syria and California and are oftenused by confectioners in the place of bitter almonds, which they so closely resemble as to be with difficulty distinguished. The French liqueur Eau de Noyaux is prepared from bitter apricot kernels.0
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The apricot is thought to have originated in northeastern China near the Russian border. In Armenia it was known from ancient times, and is native to Armenia. The Roman General Lucullus (106-57 B.C.) even exported some trees,- cherry, white heart cherry and apricot from Armenia to Europe. While 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 inCalifornia, with some in Washington and Utah.. Turkey is one of the leading dried-apricot producers. In Armenia apricot is grown in Ararat Valley.
Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity & dried ones were an importantcommodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran where they are known under the common name of Zard-ÄlÅ« . Iran is the second biggest producer of Apricots.
Although often thought of as a “subtropical” fruit, the Apricot is in fact native to a region with cold winters. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, toleratingwinter temperatures as cold as âˆ’30 Â°C or lower if healthy. The limiting factor in apricotculture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, around the time of the vernal equinox even in northern locations like the Great Lakes region, meaning spring frost often kills the flowers. The trees do need some winter cold (even if minimal) to bear and grow properly and do well in Mediterranean climate locations since spring frosts are less severe here but there is some cool winter weather to allow a proper dormancy. The dry climate of these areas is best for good fruit production. Hybridisation with the closely related Prunus sibirica (Siberian Apricot; hardy to âˆ’50Â°C but with less palatable fruit) offers options forbreeding more cold-tolerant plants.
Apricot cultivars are most often grafted on plum or peach rootstocks. A cutting of anexisting apricot plant provides the fruit characteristics such as flavor, size, etc., butthe rootstock provides the growth characteristics of the plant.Dried organic apricot, produced in Turkey. The colour is dark because it has not been treated with sulfur dioxide (E220).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.
Apricots are also cultivated in Egypt and are among the common fruits well known there. The season in which apricot is present in the market in Egypt is very short. There is even an Egyptian proverb that says “Fel meshmesh” (English “in the apricot”) which is used to refer to something that will not happen because the apricot disappears from the market in Egypt so shortly after it has appeared. Egyptians usually dry apricot and sweeten it then use it to make a drink called “amar el deen”.
Constituents: Apricot kernels yield by expression 40 to 50 per cent. of a fixed oil,similar to that which occurs in the sweet almond and in the peach kernel, consisting chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linolic acid, and commonly sold as Peach Kernel oil (Ol. Amygdae Pers.). From the cake is distilled, by digestion with alcohol, an essential oil (0l. Amygdae Essent. Pers.) which contains a colourless, crystalline glucoside, Amygdalin, and is chemically identical with that of the bitter almond. The essential oil is used in confectionery and as a culinary flavouring.
Medicinal Action and Uses:
Apricot fruit is nutritious, cleansing, and mildly laxative. They are a valuable addition to the diet working gently to improve overall health. A decoction of the astringent bark soothes inflamed and irritated skin. Although the kernels contain highly toxic prussic acid, they are prescribed in small amounts in the Chinese tradition as a treatment for coughs, asthma, and wheezing, and for excessive mucus and constipation. An extract from the kernels, laetrile, has been used in Western medicine as a highly controversial treatment for cancer. The kernels also yield a fixed oil, similar to almond oil that is often used in the formulation of cosmetics. Chinese trials show that apricot kernel paste helps combat vaginal infection. The flowers are tonic, promoting fecundity in women. The inner bark and/or the root are used for treating poisoning caused by eating bitter almond and apricot seeds (which contain hydrogen cyanide). Another report says that a decoction of the outer bark is used to neutralize the effects of hydrogen cyanide. The decoction is also used to soothe inflamed and irritated skin conditions. It is used in the treatment of asthma, coughs, acute or chronic bronchitis and constipation. The seed contains ‘laetrile’, a substance that has also been called vitamin B17. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this.
Apricot oil is used as a substitute for Oil of Almonds,which it very closely resembles. It is far less expensive and finds considerable employment in cosmetics, for its softening action on the skin. It is often fraudulently added to genuine
Almond oil and used in the manufacture of soaps, cold creams and other preparations of the perfumery trade.
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. As early as the year 502, apricot seeds were used to treat
tumors, and in the 17th century apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers.
However, in 1980 the National Cancer Institute in the USA claimed laetrile to be an ineffective 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 labor, as depicted in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.
The IUD (intrauterine device) form of birth control, based on the premise that a foreign object within the uterus will prevent the implantation of an embryo, is linked to an old
practice of camel herders and drivers who would place an apricot pit within the uterus of
their female camels to prevent pregenancy and keep them working at carrying cargo rather than the work of mothering.
Dried apricots can also be used as a potent laxative.
The Chinese associate the apricot with education and medicine. Chuang Tzu, a Chinese
philosopher in 4th century BCE, had told a story that Confucius taught his students in a
forum among the wood of apricot.
In the 2nd century, Tung Fung, a medical doctor, lived in Lushan. He asked his cured
patients to plant apricots in his backyard instead of paying consultation and medical fees.
Those cured of serious illness planted five, and the rest planted one. After some years, a
hundred thousand apricot trees were planted and the wood become the symbol for doctors and medicine.
In The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion sings, “What puts the ape in the apricot? Courage!”
Apricots were used by the Australian Aborigines as an aphrodisiac. A special tea was
prepared from the apricot stone, while the fruit was crushed and smeared over the erogenous regions.
Among tank-driving soldiers, apricots are taboo, by superstition. Tankers will not eat apricots, allow apricots onto their vehicles, and often will not even say the word
“apricot”. This superstition stems from Sherman tank breakdowns purportedly happening in the presence of cans of apricots.
Dreaming of apricots, in English folklore, is said to be good luck, though the Chinese
believe the fruit is a symbol of cowardice..
The Turkish idiom “bundan iyisi Åžam’da kayÄ±sÄ±” (literally, the only thing better than this is 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.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes in their Children’s Songbook the
song “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree” describing an apricot tree in bloom. This song, like several others, requires a familiarity with the environment of northern Utah, where the church is based.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.