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Fruit tree, Prunus armeniaca.

Apricots are a species (Prunus armeniaca) of Genus Prunus and classified with the in sub-genus Prunus.

A typical apricot tree is small (8-12m tall) with a spreading canopy. The fruit is similar to a small peach with a large 'stone' (seed), soft fruit, and 'skin' with short hairs.

The native range of the apricot is poorly understood due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation. The name comes from the original understanding of Armenia, but more recent theories place its origin as India or China.

As well as being used for its fruit, apricots are grown for their seed kernels. These can be used as an almond substitute, and are used in amaretto liqueur and amaretti biscotti.

Historically, apricot plant extracts have been used for medicinal purposes, although modern research has yet to find any beneficial effects against, for example, cancer. Studies also note the possibility of cyanide poisoning from bark extract, etc. After saying this, the fruit contain high levels of fibre, and carotenoid antioxidants - hence they are effective against constipation (fibre) and probably heart disease (antioxidants).

Use this tag for all questions about growing apricot trees and shrubs.