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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    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Prunus persica Peach, Flowering Peach,  Ornamental Peach,  Common Peach

Prunus persica Peach, Flowering Peach,  Ornamental Peach,  Common Peach


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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.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is 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: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Amygdalis persicus. Persica vulgaris.

Plant Habitats

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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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

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Alterative  Anthelmintic  Antiasthmatic  Antihalitosis  Antitussive  Astringent  Demulcent  Diuretic  
Emollient  Expectorant  Febrifuge  Haemolytic  Laxative  Sedative  Vitamin C

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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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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].

Special Uses

Espalier  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

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. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots spreading near the soil surface. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from runners away from the plant [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: China North-Central.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

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

   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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