Prunus persicasubsp.platycarpa(Decne.) D. Rivera, Obón, S. Ríos, Selma, F. Mendez, Verde & F.Cano
Prunus persicaf.scleropersica(Rchb.) Voss
Amygdalus nucipersica(L.) Rchb.
Persica nucipersica(L.) Borkh.
Amygdalus potanini(Batalin) T.T.Yu
Persica potaninii(Batalin) Kovalev & Kostina
The specific namepersicarefers to its widespread cultivation inPersia(modern-day Iran), from where it was transplanted to Europe. It belongs to thegenusPrunus, which includes thecherry,apricot,almond, andplum, in therose family. The peach is classified with the almond in the subgenusAmygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated seed shell. Due to their close relatedness, the kernel of a peach stone tastes remarkably similar to almond, and peach stones are often used to make a cheap version ofmarzipan, known aspersipan.
Peaches andnectarinesare the same species, though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. The skin of nectarines lacks the fuzz (fruit-skintrichomes) that peach skin has; a mutation in a singlegene(MYB25) is thought to be responsible for the difference between the two.
In 2018,Chinaproduced 62% of the world total of peaches and nectarines.
Prunus persicagrows up to 7 m (23 ft) tall and wide, but when pruned properly, trees are usually 3–4 m (10–13 ft) tall and wide.Theleavesarelanceolate,7–16 cm (3–6+1⁄2 in) long,2–3 cm (3⁄4–1+1⁄4 in) broad, andpinnatelyveined. Theflowersare produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, 2.5–3 cm diameter, pink, with five petals. Thefruithas yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a skin that is either velvety (peaches) or smooth (nectarines) in differentcultivars. 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, around 1.3–2 cm long, and surrounded by a wood-like husk. Peaches, along with cherries, plums, and apricots, are stone fruits (drupes). The variousheirloom varietiesincluding the 'Indian Peach', or 'Indian Blood Peach', which ripens in the latter part of the summer, and can have color ranging from red and white, to purple.
Cultivated peaches are divided intoclingstones and freestones, depending on whether the flesh sticks to thestoneor not; both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with littleacidity, while yellow-fleshed peaches typically have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness, though this also varies greatly. Both colors often have some red on their skins. Low-acid, white-fleshed peaches are the most popular kinds in China, Japan, and neighbouring Asian countries, while Europeans and North Americans have historically favoured the acidic, yellow-fleshedcultivars.
The scientific namepersica, along with the word "peach" itself and its cognates in many European languages, derives from an early European belief that peaches were native toPersia(modern-day Iran). TheAncient Romansreferred to the peach asmalum persicum"Persian apple", later becoming Frenchpêche, whence the English "peach".The scientific name,Prunus persica, literally means "Persian plum", as it is closely related to the plum