Let’s Get Peachy!

Prunus persica var. persica ‘Tropicsweet’

When looking into the background of edible plants that have been cultivated for many decades we can see a very common theme emerge. They have often been in production for so long that we have great difficulty tracing their true parentage. Corn is a great example. The exact parentage in the evolution of Zea mays ssp. mays (domesticated corn) is hotly debated, even though the plant has been genetically sequenced. This applies to the peach.

It is not known to truly exist in a non-domesticated situation, though there is evidence to suggest that it may have come from Prunus davidiana (the flowering peach), which is used as rootstock for Prunus persica. Prunus persica is known to have originated in eastern Asia, and most likely China, probably in the Yangtze River Valley.

Prunus persica var. persica ‘tropicsweet’ should be able to grow well in USDA zones five through nine. Despite this temperature below 28°F, have been documented to kill Prunus persica. It will thrive when it is planted in full sun and moist, slightly acidic soil. It should be noted that peaches are self-fertile and do not require another tree to produce fruit, and are generally pollinated by bees. Several peach trees are located in Bok Tower Garden’s Kitchen Garden near the Alexander Discovery Center and the Outdoor Kitchen.

The scientific name Prunus persica literally means the Persian plum. This is derived from a belief amongst Europeans that these plants originated in Persia (present day Iran). In fact, Lyle Campbell, in his 2004 book Historical Linguistics: An Introduction points out that ancient Romans referred to peaches as Malum persicum or the Persian apple.
This blog was written by Brendan Huggins, Director of Horticulture and photographed by Erica Smith, Director of Marketing.