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Prunus persica - (L.)Batsch.                
Common Name Peach, Flowering Peach, Ornamental Peach, Common Peach
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The seed can contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten[65]. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation, it is possibly derived in cultivation from P. davidiana.
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Prunus persica is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms Amygdalis persicus. Persica vulgaris.
Prunus persica Peach, Flowering Peach,  Ornamental Peach,  Common Peach

Prunus persica Peach, Flowering Peach,  Ornamental Peach,  Common Peach
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Fruit;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum;  Oil;  Oil;  Tea.

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use[1, 2, 34, 46]. The fruit is often used in ice creams, pies, jams etc[183]. When fully ripe, the fruit of the best forms are very juicy with a rich delicious flavour[K]. Wild trees in the Himalayas yield about 36.5kg of fruit a year[194]. The fruit of the wild form contains about 5.2% sugars, 2% protein, 1.6% ash. Vitamin C content is 2.3mg per 100g[194]. The fruit is a good source of vitamin A[201]. Fruits of the wild peach are richer in nutrients than the cultivated forms[194]. The size of fruit varies widely between cultivars and the wild form, it can be up to 7cm in diameter and contains one seed[200]. Flowers - raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a garnish[183]. They can also be brewed into a tea[183]. The distilled flowers yield a white liquid which can be used to impart a flavour resembling the seed[183]. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat if it is too bitter, seed can contain high concentrations of hydrocyanic acid. See the notes above on toxicity. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[57]. Although the report does not mention edibility it can be assumed that it is edible. The seed contains up to 45% oil[218]. A gum is obtained from the stem. It can be used for chewing[64].
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Fruit (Dry weight)
  • 350 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 5.5g; Fat: 1.4g; Carbohydrate: 90g; Fibre: 10g; Ash: 4g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 60mg; Phosphorus: 135mg; Iron: 6.5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 30mg; Potassium: 1800mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 3000mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.15mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.25mg; Niacin: 4.7mg; B6: 0mg; C: 70mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: The figures given here are the median of a range quoted in the report.
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Alterative;  Anthelmintic;  Antiasthmatic;  Antihalitosis;  Antitussive;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  
Haemolytic;  Laxative;  Sedative.

Antihalitosis[194]. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, parasiticide and mildly sedative[21, 218]. They are used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis[238]. They also help to relieve vomiting and morning sickness during pregnancy, though the dose must be carefully monitored because of their diuretic action[21]. The dried and powdered leaves have sometimes been used to help heal sores and wounds[21]. The leaves are harvested in June and July then dried for later use[4]. The flowers are diuretic, sedative and vermifuge[4, 21, 176, 194, 218]. They are used internally in the treatment of constipation and oedema[238]. A gum from the stems is alterative, astringent, demulcent and sedative[4, 21, 176, 194, 218]. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient, haemolytic, laxative and sedative[4, 21, 176, 194, 218]. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation in the elderly, coughs, asthma and menstrual disorders[238]. The bark is demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and sedative[4]. It is used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis[238]. The root bark is used in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice[218]. The bark is harvested from young trees in the spring and is dried for later use[4]. The seed contains 'laetrile', a substance that has also been called vitamin B17[218]. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this[K]. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison - it should thus be treated with caution[218]. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[238].
Other Uses
Adhesive;  Cleanser;  Dye;  Gum;  Oil;  Oil.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[168]. Yellow according to another report[257]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[168]. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[57]. It is used as a substitute for almond oil in skin creams[238]. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off[4]. A gum obtained from the stem is used as an adhesive[64].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Container, Espalier, Firewood. Requires a well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 11]. Thrives in a loamy soil, doing well on limestone[11]. Best not grown in acid soils. Prefers some chalk in the soil but it is apt to become chlorotic if too much is present[1]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7[200]. Succeeds in light shade but fruits better in a sunny position[11]. Requires shelter from north and north-east winds[11] and also from spring frosts[200]. Widely cultivated for its edible fruit in warm temperate areas and continental climates, there are many named varieties[183]. There are numerous divisions of the varieties according to skin colour etc. Perhaps the most useful from the eaters point of view is whether it is free-stone (the flesh parts easily from the seed) or cling-stone (the flesh adheres to the seed)[200, K]. Trees are normally hardy in southern Britain[11], tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when they are dormant[184], but they require some protection if cropping is to be at all reliable[11]. This is not due so much to lack of cold hardiness, more to the cooler summers in Britain which do not fully ripen the wood and the fruit, plus the unpredictable winters and springs which, in a mild spell, can excite the tree into premature flowering and growth which is then very liable to damage in any following cold spell. Hand pollination at this time can improve fruit-set[200]. The cultivar 'Rochester' is more likely than most cultivars to succeed outdoors in Britain[200]. In general it is best to site peaches in a very warm sheltered sunny position, preferably against a south or west facing wall[200, 219]. Most cultivars are self-fertile[200]. Trees are often grafted onto plum or other rootstocks but are said to be better when grown on their own roots in southern Britain[11]. Trees are not generally long-lived[200], this is partly because of the need for the tree to produce a constant supply of new wood since most fruit is formed on one-year old wood (though some fruit spurs are formed)[200]. Garlic is a good companion for this plant, helping to prevent disease, especially peach leaf curl[20, 201]. Tansy grown below peach trees helps to keep them healthier[201]. Peach leaf curl can also be prevented by protecting the plants from winter and early spring rains, perhaps by covering them in plastic[200]. Plants grown or overwintered indoors do not suffer from leaf curl[260]. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[238]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Edible, Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[200]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[200]. The stored seed is best given 2 months warm followed by 3 months cold stratification[113]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[11, 200]. A very low percentage[113]. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[200]. Layering in spring.
Related Plants                                         
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Prunus alabamensisAlabama Cherry21
Prunus alleghaniensisAllegheny Plum, Davis' plum31
Prunus americanaAmerican Plum, American Wild Plum, Wild Plum32
Prunus americana lanata 31
Prunus andersoniiDesert Peach22
Prunus angustifoliaChickasaw Plum, Watson's plum, Hally Jolivette Cherry31
Prunus angustifolia watsoniiSand Plum41
Prunus apetalaClove Cherry21
Prunus arabica 21
Prunus armeniacaApricot33
Prunus aviumWild Cherry, Sweet cherry42
Prunus besserianaDwarf Almond21
Prunus besseyiWestern Sand Cherry41
Prunus bifrons 21
Prunus bokharensisBokhara Plum21
Prunus brigantinaBriançon Apricot41
Prunus buergeriana 21
Prunus campanulataTaiwan Cherry21
Prunus canescensGreyleaf Cherry31
Prunus capsica 21
Prunus carolinianaAmerican Cherry Laurel, Carolina laurelcherry, Laurel Cherry,21
Prunus cerasiferaCherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum, Newport Cherry Plum, Pissard Plum41
Prunus cerasifera divaricata 41
Prunus cerasoidesWild Himalayan Cherry22
Prunus cerasusSour Cherry12
Prunus cerasus austeraMorello Cherry31
Prunus cerasus capronianaKentish Red Cherry31
Prunus cerasus frutescensBush Sour Cherry31
Prunus cerasus marascaMaraschino Cherry31
Prunus cocomilia 21
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[34]Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[64]Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins.
A very good book dealing with the subject in a readable way.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[184]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs.
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.
[194]Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K. Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[260]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Conservatory and Indoor Plants Volumes 1 & 2
Excellent photos of over 1,100 species and cultivars with habits and cultivation details plus a few plant uses. Many species are too tender for outdoors in Britain though there are many that can be grown outside.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Philip Wagenknecht Tue Mar 4 2008
Germination time can be greatly reduced by carefully removing the seed covers, leaving just the white almond. Seeds treated in this way start to germinate after two days. I have personally tested this with Peach [Prunus persica - (L.)Batsch.] and Nectarine [Prunus persica nucipersica - (Suckow.)C.K.Schneid.] seeds. There is a report on this technique in Plant Physiol. 1936 Jul ;11 (3):629-33 APPROXIMATE GERMINATION TEST FOR NON-AFTER-RIPENED PEACH SEED H. B. Tukey and M. S. Barrett New York Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, New York Full text: http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/reprint/11/3/629.pdf http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=439240

Plant Physiology full text of a report on fast germination test

John S.
Mar 5 2013 12:00AM
The leaves are used in France to produce an infused wine known as vin de pêche. This is created by blending peach leaves, brandy, red wine and sugar for 10 to 14 days until ready to drink. A recipe can be found here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/06/vin-de-peche-pe/
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