The Peach(Prunus persica) is a deciduous fruiting tree growing to 15 to 25 feet tall, belonging to the Rosaceae family. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach. It is classified with the almond in the subgenus Amygdalus within the genus Prunus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated shell. Although its botanical name Prunus persica suggests the peach is native to Persia after the Persians introduced the fruit into the Western world, peaches actually originated in , where they have been cultivated since the early days of culture. Peaches were mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th century BC and were a favored fruit of kings and emperors.
The flowers of the Peach are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, pink, with five petals. The fruit has yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma and a skin that is either velvety (peaches) or smooth (nectarines) depending on the cultivar. The flesh is very delicate and easily bruised in some cultivars but is fairly firm in some commercial varieties, especially when green. The single, large seed is red-brown, oval shaped and is surrounded by a wood-like husk. Peaches, along with cherries, plums and apricots, are stone fruits (drupes).
Peach plants grow well in a fairly limited range. They have a chilling requirement that tropical areas cannot satisfy. The trees themselves can usually tolerate temperatures to around -15 to -22 °F, although the following season'sbuds can be killed at these temperatures, leading to no crop that summer. Certain cultivars are more tender, and others can tolerate a few degrees colder. In addition, intense summer heat is required to mature the crop, with mean temperatures of the hottest month between 68 and 86 °F. Another problematic issue in many peach growing areas is spring frost. The trees tend to flower fairly early in spring. The blooms often can be damaged or killed by freezes; typically, if temperatures drop below about 25 °F, most flowers will be killed. However, if the flowers are not fully open, they can tolerate a few degrees colder. Depending on climate and cultivar, peach harvest can occur from late May into August (Northern Hemisphere). Harvest from each tree lasts about a week.
Peaches should be located in full sun and with good air flow to allow cold air to flow away on frosty nights and keep the area cool in summer. Peaches are best planted in early winter, as this allows time for the roots to establish and to sustain the new spring growth.
Leaf: Alternate, simple, lanceolate, serrated, 3 to 6 inches long, often curved along midrib, shiny dark green above, paler below.
Flower: White, pink to lavender, 1 inch across, solitary but often close together, appearing in early spring.
Fruit: Fuzzy drupe, 3 inches across, yellow and red, hard, ribbed pit inside encloses the seed, very delicious and juicy, ripens in midsummer.
Twig: New growth is red and green, later turns gray-brown, buds are blunt and gray fuzzy, spur shoots present.
Bark: Dark gray, initially smooth with elongated lenticels, later splits and becomes irregularly scaly.
Form: A small tree up to 15 to 25 feet with a spreading crown.