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Deriration. The name Prunus is said to have been of oriental origin, the wild plant, according to Galen, being called proumnos in Asia. The Greek name of the plum, as mentioned by Theophrastus, is proune; whence the Latin, Prunus. Generic Characters. Drupe ovate or oblong, fleshy, quite smooth, covered with a pruinose powder. Pu
tamen (stone) compressed, acute on both sides, somewhat furrowed at the edges, otherwise smooth. Young leaves convolute.. Pedicels umbellate-fasciculate, one-flowered, evolved before or after the leaves.—De Candolle, Prodromus.
A HE species belonging to this genus are mostly deciduous, low trees
or shrubs, bearing edible fruit, natives of Europe, Asia, and North America. Many of them are spiny in the wild state, and all have showy flowers. The epidermis of the bark of the plum, as well
as that of the birch and cherry, is readily divisible transversely, side and may frequently be seen divided, in this manner, into rings on the tree. There are upwards of thirty species enumerated in catalogues; but it is a question whether one-half of them are not mere varieties. To this genus, formerly belonged the Apricot, (Armeniaca vulgaris, of Tournefort, De Candolle, Loudon, and others,) and for the convenience of classification, we have retained the Linnæan name. This tree is in general cultivation throughout the temperate regions of the globe, and is distinguished, at first sight, from the almond, peach, and nectarine, by its heart-shaped, smooth, shining leaves, and white flowers. There are several wild varieties, bearing flowers of different shades of pink, and are chiefly cultivated for ornament. The great beauty of both the wild and the cultivated sorts of the apricot is, that in high latitudes, they generally come into bloom before most other trees. The most noted species of this genus proper, are the domestic cultivated plum (Prunus domestica); the sloe, or black thorn, of Europe (Prunus spinosa); the engrafted, or bullace plum (Prunus insititia); the beach-plum (Prunus maritima); and the moose or American wild plum (Prunus americana.) The latter is said to be the only species indigenous to North America which has a flat stone, groved on both margins. The other species native of this country, are somewhat intermediate in their fruit, between the cherry and the plum, the stone being slightly compressed, and the glaucous bloom wanting, except in the Prunus maritima; yet they are evidently Plums and not Cherries, in the opinion of Torrey and Gray, and cannot with propriety be separated from this genus. The beach-plum abounds along the sandy sea-coast of the United States, from Maine to Alabama. The moose-plum occurs on the banks of streams and other waters, in hedges, and on prairies, from Canada to Texas, and is often cultivated with success. Both of these species are said to escape the attacks of the curculio, as no warts or excrescences are found upon them, even when growing in the immediate vicinity of infested foreign trees. Hence it has been suggested that they might be propagated to advantage from the stone, for the purpose of grafting or budding other fruits upon.
LINNBUS, Species Plantarum.
( DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus. Armeniaca vulgaris,
Don, Miller's Dictionary.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.
Derivations. The specific name, armeniaca, is derived from Armenia, the country from which this tree was supposed originally to have been brought to Europe. The popular English name, Apricot, was originally precocia, and was supposed by some to have been derived from præcor, early or precocious, from its fruit ripening sooner than most others. Some derive it from the Arabic berkoche; whence the Spanish and Italian names.
Engravings. Du Hamel, Traité des Arbres et Arbustes, i., p. 49; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., figs. 398, 399, et vi., pl. 107; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Flowers sessile. Leaves heart-shaped or ovate.—De Candolle, Prodromus.
HE Common Apricot, in
of twenty or thirty feet, with a handsome, spreading, somewhat orbicular head. The branches are furnished with numerous buds, and are clothed with large, heartshaped, smooth, shining leaves. The flowers, which are white, put forth before the leaves, and are very ornamental, especially at a season when but few other trees are in bloom. They usually make their appearance at Naples, in Italy, and at Augusta, in Georgia, by the 20th of February ; in England, by the first of April, and nearly a month later at New York. The nut or stone of the fruit is fleshy, juicy, with its surface downy, obtuse at one end, acute at the other, and furrowed at both lateral edges, but the other parts are even.
Varieties. There are two forms of this kind of apricot, either of which may be considered as the species, and two varieties :
1. P. A. OVALIFOLIA. Oval-leaved Apricot-tree, the leaves of which are oval, and the fruit small.
2. P. A. CORDIFOLIA. Heart-shaped-leaved Apricot-tree, with broad, heart-shaped leaves, and large fruit.
3. P. A. FOLIIS VARIEGATIS. Variegated-leaved Apricot-tree.
4. P. A. FLORE PLENO. Double-flowered Apricot-tree. It is said that the Chinese have a great number of double-flowered varieties of this tree, which they plant on little mounts for ornament, and dwarfs in pots, for their apartments.
Geography and History. The Prunus armeniaca is indigenous to Armenia, Caucasus, the Himalayas, China, and Japan. From its trivial name, it is gene
rally supposed to have originated in Armenia, but Regnier and Sickler assign it a parallel between the Niger and Mount Atlas. Pallas considers it to be a native of the whole of the Caucasus; and Thunberg describes it as a very large, spreading, branchy tree, in Japan. Both in Caucasus and China it is more frequent on mountains than on plains, which affords a proof of its great hardiness.
This tree was cultivated by the Romans, and is described by Pliny and Dioscorides. It is said to have been brought from Greece to Marseilles by the Phocæan colonists, some time in the middle ages. It appears from Turner's “ Herbal,” that it was cultivated in England in 1562; and in Hackluyt's - Remembrancer,” published in 1582, it is affirmed, that the apricot was brought from Italy to England by Wolfe, a French priest, gardener to Henry VIII., in 1524.
The introduction of the apricot into the United States probably dates back to the early periods of their settlements. It is at present almost as universally cultivated in both Europe and America for a fruit-tree, as the peach; and is more deserving of a place in the shrubbery than that tree, on account of its more vigorous growth, and its much handsomer general shape, independently of its more beautiful leaves.
Soil, Culture, Soc. Very few trees attain the appearance of maturity so soon as the apricot. A standard ten or twelve years planted, in good loamy, rich soil, will grow to a height of twenty feet, with a head twenty-five feet in diameter, presenting all the appearance of a tree of twenty or thirty years' growth. Hence the value of this tree in planting the grounds of a small villa, where unity of expression and immediate effect is desired. This tree requires very nearly the same soil and mode of culture as the nectarine and domestic plum, and is subject to the attacks of many of the same insects, and frequently loses its fruit before it arrives at maturity. The trees are generally budded on stocks of the plum, and in the higher latitudes are trained against walls. There are several varieties cultivated especially for their fruit, among which the Breda, with its brilliant scarlet buds, the Moorpark, and the Blotched-leaved Roman, stand pre-eminent. There is also the Peach Apricot, with large fruit, supposed to be a hybrid between the peach and apricot, which is much esteemed by some.
Properties and Uses. The fruit of the Apricot, like that of the peach and plum, is wholesome and delicious, when taken in moderate quantities, but it cannot be indulged in, to excess, with impunity. When fully ripe it may be used as a dessert at table, or may be dried, or preserved in sirup, like the peach and plum. On the African oases, it is dried, and carried to Egypt, as an article of commerce. In China, the natives employ it variously in the arts. From the wild tree, the pulp is of little value, but it has a large kernel, from which they extract an oil. They preserve this fruit wet in all its flavour; and they make lozenges of the clarified juice, which afford an agreeable beverage, when diluted in water.
(LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.
DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
Derivation. The specific name, domestica, is derived from the Latin domus, a house, having reference to this tree as being cultivated about houses, or appertaining to home.
Engravings. London Pomological Magazine ; Hoffy, Orchardist's Companion ; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vi., pl. 111.; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Branches spineless. Flowers mostly solitary. Leaves lanceolate-ovate, concave on
the surface, not flat.-De Candolle, Prodromus.
to a height of fif
teen or twenty feet, and from six to ten inches in diameter. It somewhat resembles the common sloe, (Prunus spinosa,) but larger in all its parts, and is without thorns. The bark is black, and the leaves are of a dark-green. The roots are creeping, and, in most soils and situations, throw up numerous suckers. The flowers put forth, in England and in the central parts of the United States, by the middle of April, and nearly a month later at Berlin, in Prussia, and at Boston, in Massachusetts. They are mostly solitary, and contain from twenty to thirty filaments, with yellowish anthers. The style is generally only one; but there are sometimes two. The drupe is globose, depressed at the base, or oblong-ovate, fleshy, glabrous, and covered with a bloom.
Varieties. There are more than three hundred varieties and sub-varieties of the domestic cultivated plum, enumerated in catalogues, many of which, perhaps, are only dissimilar in name. It is the opinion of some authors that this species and all its variations, as well as the bullace plum, originated from the common sloe. On this point, however, botanists do not agree, and as it will be irrelevant to our purpose to undertake to refute or defend such a belief, we shall here only notice those which have some pretensions to distinctness of character, and have been cultivated either for ornament or profit.
1. P. D. ARMENIÖIDES, De Candolle. Apricot-like Plum-tree; Mirabelle or Drap d'or, of the French. The leaves, the fruit, and the general habit of this variety bear some resemblance to those of the Armeniaca brigantiaca. It appears to be intermediate between the wild plum and the wild apricot.
2. P. D. CLAUDIANA, De Candolle. The Empress Claudina's Plum-tree; Green Gage, of the English; Reine-claude, of the French; and Grüne Königspflaume,
of the Gerinans. This variety is regarded as one of the best of plums, and is too extensively known to require description. It was introduced into France by the wife of Francis I. Hence the name, Reine-claude. It is called Gage in England, after the name of the family who first cultivated it there.
3. P. D. MYROBALANA, Linnæus. Myrobalan Plum-tree, Cherry or Indian Plumtree; Prunier myrobalan, or Cerisette, French; Kirschpflaumenbaum or Indischer Pflaumenbaum, German. This variety appears to be first removed from the bullace plum, (Prunus insititia,) and may be distinguished by its narrow sepals, globose, depressed fruit, and small-pointed nut. It is supposed by some to be a native of North America, but it is only found in this country in a state of cultivation. It well deserves culture as an ornamental tree, on account of its very early flowering, which takes place much sooner than the fruit-bearing varieties, generally; consequently, it is liable to be injured by frost.
4. P. D. DAMASCENA, De Candolle. Damask or Damascene Plum-tree; Prunier de damas, of the French.
5. P. D. TURONENSIS, De Candolle. Orleans Plum-tree; Monsieur hâtif of the French. This variety is said to have been introduced into Britain from Orleans, in France, when that part of the country was in the possession of the English.
6. P. D. JULIANA, De Candolle. Ste. Julienne Plum-tree, which yields the officinal prunes.
7. P. D. CATHARINA, De Candolle. St. Catharine Plum-tree. The fruit of this variety is a large, yellowish plum, of an oval shape, tapering towards the base, and is distinguished for its remarkably sweet and agreeable flavour, when fresh and ripe from the tree.
8. P. D. AUBERTIANA, De Candolle. Egg Plum-tree, or Magnum Bonum. This variety, as in the plums cultivated for their fruit, generally, has larger leaves, flowers, and fruit, and comes later into bloom than the other kinds.
9. P. D. PRUNEALINA, De Candolle. Damson-tree, common and well known.
10. P. D. WASHINGTONENSIS. Washington or Bolmar Plum-tree. This variety may be known by its roundish, yellow fruit, of an excellent quality, vigorous growth, and pyramidal head. It is very hardy, a great bearer, and particularly deserves cultivation.
11. P. D. FLORE PLENO, Loudon. Double-blossomed Plum-tree, with large, handsome flowers. If the roots of this variety are not supplied with an abundance of nourishment, the flowers will degenerate into semi-double or single ones.
12. P. D. FOLIIS VARIEGATIS, Loudon. Variegated-leaved Plum-tree.
Geography and History. The Prunus domestica appears to be more widely diffused in its original locality than the apricot. It is believed to be indigenous to the south of Russia, Caucasus, the Himalayas, and to many parts of Europe. In England, and in some parts of the United States, it is sometimes found in hedges, but never truly wild. This species and many of its varieties are cultivated for ornament, or their fruit, in all the temperate countries of the habitable globe. Faulkner, in his “Kensington,” makes the plum a native of Asia, and an introduction into Europe of the Crusaders. Gough, in his “British Topography," says, that Lord Cromwell introduced the Perdrigon plum into England in the time of Henry VII.
The introduction of this tree into the United States dates back to the earliest periods of their settlements. Several valuable and interesting varieties have originated in this country, among which, the Bolmar or Washington plum stands conspicuous. The parent tree is said to have been purchased in a market in New York, about the end of the last century. It remained barren for several years, till, during a violent storm of thunder, the entire trunk was severed to the earth, by lightning, and destroyed. The part remaining in the ground, afterwards threw up several vigorous shoots, which were allowed to remain, and