Apricot Tree – Ansu Apricot, Siberian Apricot, Tibetan Apricot
Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Algeria
Prunus armeniaca are small apricot trees with spreading canopies of white to pinkish petals, bearing fruit similar to small peaches. The fruit’s surface can be smooth or velvety, with a taste ranging from sweet to tart. Apricot seeds and kernels can be dried and substituted as almonds, while the Italian liquor Amaretto is avored with extract of apricot kernels (rather than what most believe to be almond extract!). Apricot oil has a softening effect on the skin, so it has been used in perfumery and cosmetics.
It is believed that in the 4th century, Confucius taught his students in a wooded area surrounded by apricot trees. The Chinese thus use the apricot as a symbol of education and medicine.
The apricot fruit carries many nutrients and is known to be mildly laxative. The tree’s bark and inner root can be used to treat poisoning caused by hydrogen cyanide – bitter almond and apricot seeds actually contain hydrogen cyanide, and a decoction of the bark and root can work against those effects. Apricot seeds can be used in the treatment of asthma, coughs, and acute bronchitis. The seeds contain a substance called ‘laetrile’, which is claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer (there is little science, however, to back this claim at this point).