Peach (Prunus persica).—Grant Heilman Photography

Small to medium-sized fruit tree (Prunus persica) of the rose family, grown throughout the warmer temperate regions of both hemispheres, and the fruit it produces. It probably originated in China and spread westward. Peach trees are intolerant of severe cold but require winter chilling to induce spring growth. The long, pointed leaves are glossy green and lance-shaped. Pink or white flowers grow singly or clustered. The fleshy, juicy exterior of the fruit is edible; the hard interior is called the stone or pit. In freestone types, stones separate easily from ripe flesh; in clingstone types, the flesh adheres firmly to the stone. Thousands of varieties have been developed. Peach skin is downy or fuzzy; smooth-skinned peaches are nectarines. Peaches are widely eaten fresh and are baked in desserts. Canned peaches are a staple commodity in many regions. Related plants include almond, plum, and cherry.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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