Characteristics of Peach Tree (Prunus persica) in the Wild

Prunus persica
Peach (Prunus persica) is a fruiting plant of the Rosaceae family. This fruit is also known as táo fruit in Mandarin and momo in Japanese. The peach has yellow flesh with a fragrant aroma and has one hard seed.

Peaches and Nectarines are the same species, although they are considered commercially as different fruits. In 2018, China produced 62% of the world’s total peaches and nectarines.

HISTORY OF PEACH TREE
Although the botanical name Prunus persica refers to Persia, genetic studies suggest peaches originated in China, where they have been cultivated since the Neolithic period. It is believed that peach tree cultivation began around 2000 BC. More recent evidence suggests that domestication occurred as early as 6000 BC in Zhejiang Province, China. The oldest archaeological peach stones come from the Kuahuqiao site.

Archaeologists point to the Yangtze River Valley as the site of initial selection for peach varieties. The peach is mentioned in Chinese writings and literature dating back to the early first millennium BC.

In Japan, the peach tree appeared in 4700-4400 BC, during the Jōmon period.

 

Characteristics of Peach Leaf

Prunus persica Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

The leaves are lanceolate, 7-16 cm long, 2-3 cm wide and have serrated edges.

 

Characteristics of Peach Flower

Prunus persica Flower
Source: flickr.com/Jim Mayes

The flowers appear in early spring before the leaves, they are solitary or in pairs, 2.5-3 cm in diameter, pink, with five petals.

The color and shape of the peach flower varies widely, depending on the cultivar.

 

Characteristics of Peaches

Prunus persica Fruit
Source: flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

The fruit has yellow or whitish flesh, a soft aroma, and a velvety (peach) or smooth (nectarine) skin. The pulp is very fine and bruises easily in some cultivars, but is quite tough in some commercial varieties, especially when they are green.

Single large fruit seeds are brownish red, oval-shaped, about 1.5-2 cm long, and surrounded by wood-like husks.

 

Characteristics of Peach Tree

Prunus persica Tree
Source: flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

Peach trees can grow to 7 meters in height in the wild, but in cultivation, they are usually pruned to 3-4 meters.

Peach trees are usually propagated by grafting or growing from seed. It also requires full sun and a layout that allows good natural airflow to help the tree’s thermal environment.

The tree can only grow in areas with moderate temperatures between 20 to 28 °C and tolerates cold temperatures of -25 °C.

Currently, there are hundreds of peach tree cultivars that have names, four of which have received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, namely:

  • Prunus persica ‘Duke of York’
  • Prunus persica ‘Peregrine’
  • Prunus persica ‘Rochester’
  • Prunus persica ‘Lord Napier’ (nectarine)

Peach trees require more nitrogen-rich fertilizer than other fruit trees. Without a regular supply of fertilizer, peach tree leaves begin to turn yellow or show stunted growth. Blood meal, bone meal, and calcium ammonium nitrate are suitable fertilizers.

 

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