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Interesting Things About Apricots

They are the scourge of Marine tankers but the national fruit of Armenia. They are threatened by climate change. They may be used to cure cancer someday, and they’re pretty good to eat, too. Today we are talking about the humble apricot.



Witches use apricots for love spells.


Apricot juice is used in love potions. The pits are carried to attract love. Also, the leaves and flowers can be used in love spells. Basically, if you are a witch looking for love, your best bet is to find an apricot tree.


There are purple apricots.


The species Prunus x dasycarpa is a hybrid of the apricot and cherry plum. Though it has been cultivated on purpose in Central Asia, it likely hybridized by chance as the two fruits are grown in the same place. This interesting fruit is colored like a plum by tastes like an apricot.


Climate change is affecting the apricot industry.


Apricots can suffer from a condition known as pit burn or stone burn. This causes the flesh around the pit of the fruit to turn brown and soften. The cause of the problem is due to high temperatures (those reaching the triple digits) and drought, both of which are increasing with climate change. To combat this problem, commercial growers are starting to use newer varieties that are resistant to the condition.


Apricot pits have many uses.


The husks of the pit are used as an exfoliant in face creams. Oil is harvested from the kernel, which is the almond-like core of an apricot pit. These oils are used for cosmetics, flavorings, and even cooking. Biodiesel is also being developed using apricot kernel oil. In India, the oil is used for massages because it is said to fight aches and pains. The kernels contain a substance known as amygdalin, which may shrink and eradicate tumors and stop their growth, so apricots could be used someday to cure cancer.


Apricots are the national fruit of Armenia.


Apricots are sometimes referred to as Armenian plums because they are grown so often in this region. Armenia ships a lot of their apricot crop overseas, especially to Russia. The Armenian national instrument, the Duduk, is made from apricot wood, and the fruit is very important to the country.


Apricots are considered bad luck by U.S. Marines.


This tradition started during World War II, when tanks carrying apricot rations had a tendency to break down unexpectedly. Since that time, tankers have considered the fruit to be cursed. The tradition carried on into Vietnam and continues to this day. Apricots were even blamed for breakdowns during the Persian Gulf War. Not only will tankers not eat apricots today, they may not let anyone aboard who has eaten one in the last twenty-four hours. Some believe that even to speak the name of the cursed fruit is back luck, so they are referred to them as ‘cots or A-fruit, among other names.


Apricots have many health benefits.


Aside from the potential cancer-curing properties discussed above, there are other health benefits you can get from apricots. They are said to promote eye, gut, and skin health, as well as being a liver protectant. The fruit contains antioxidants and nutrients such as potassium and vitamins E and A. In other words, putting apricots in your diet is a good thing… Unless you’re a Marine, that is.


The United States is not the world leader in apricot growing.


The leading grower of apricots is actually Turkey, which grows 846,606 tons a year. Apricots are very popular in the Middle East, and all the leading growers in the world are located in the region. The United States only grows 33,400 tons of apricots, 75 percent of them grown in California. Most of the rest of the American crop is grown in Washington state or Indiana.


Apricots have been domesticated for a long time.


The apricot was first domesticated in China and Central Asia in about 2000 B.C. The fruit began traveling along the Great Silk Road, where it eventually spread to the Middle East and then was discovered by Europeans. Later, apricots traveled to North America, where they became a regular commercial crop in the United States.


Apricot trees have a limited reproduction time.


An apricot tree needs three to four years to mature to the point of producing fruit. Though the trees can live from 40 to 150 years, they only produce fruit until the age of 20 to 25 years old. After this they are either cut down by commercial growers or used as an ornamental tree in gardens.


I remember a cool experience I had picking apricots in Bishop, California. There is an organic u-pick-it in the area and I decided to stop by for the apricot harvest. While I was filling two buckets with apricots and looking out over the Owens Valley in the summer heat, I heard a strange buzzing noise that at first I couldn’t identify. I realized I was hearing bees buzzing among the trees in the grove, a sound I had not heard in a long time. It was a nearly spiritual experience and I will never forget it.


SOURCES


International Dendrology Society- www.treesandshrubsonline.com

Gardening Know How- www.gardeningknowhow.com

Armenia Discovery- www.armeniadiscovery.com

Military Times- www.militarytimes.com

We Are the Mighty- www.wearethemighty.com

Healthline- www.healthline.com

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center- www.agmrc.org

National Public Radio- www.npr.org

SF Gate- www.sfgate.com

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham, 2003

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