The origin of apricot and its selection In Armenia apricot tree has its special place among cultivating fruit–barring sorts. In fruit-breeding it is appreciated for high fruit barring, annual productivity, fruit early ripening, high food value and curing qualities. The fruits of apricot tree contain many valuable materials in edible food– sugar (7,0–20%), organic acids (0, 25–1, 20%), mineral salts, vitamins (C and A), mitral, pektinal and tannic materials. Apricot tree belongs to Armeniaca genus of Rosaceae family. This name was first commemorated (mentioned) in literature by Ancient Roman scientist Plinius-Elder. Apricot tree has been known in cultivation for a long period. Its origin and cultivation is not completely known yet. In the literature there are two opinions about homeland of the tree. According to Plinius, Lamark and Ghevond Alishan the homeland of that fruit is Armenia. In contrast to this opinion A. de Candole (1855), K. F. Kostina (1939), P.M Jukovski (1964) consider apricot to have a Chinese and Middle Asian origin, bringing the fact that the apricot tree was commemorated in the Chinese literature 2000 years BC and up to these days there have been preserved the kinds of culture. But there are also corresponding data that in Garni and Yerevan in Shengavit during the excavations stones of apricot were found, which belong to eneolit period and have a history of 6000 years. Hence we can see the cultivation of apricot in Armenia which is 2000 years older than China. Besides the researchers M.H. Hambarcoumyan and M. N. Haroutyunyan in 1975 discovered wild apricot trees in chest of Mount Aragats in village Amberd which proves the Armenian origin of that culture. The apricot tree has been commemorated in Armenian literature since ancient times. H. Acharyan believed that the word “ծիրան (tsiran)” (apricot) has an Armenian origin. It is found in Armenian translation of Bible with its different derivations. He considers the root of the word apricot ծիր which means stuck up or spread. It is historically known that the oldest Armeniaca species of apricot tree is the ordinary apricot tree Armeniaca vulgaris Lam. According to literature and as a result of many researches it is finally proved that Armenia in reality is the most ancient point of apricot tree. All sorts that are cultivated here have come from local wild apricot trees (Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.) Fruit – berry sorts’ aimed breeding affairs began in 1927 – 30s. The main issue of breeding is discovery and assemblage of valuable gene pool of fruitful species due to which peach tree, apricot tree, plumb tree, cherry tree, apple tree almond tree, quince tree, fig tree, nut tree local sorts, kinds, clones have been selected and their collection parks have been established. On the basis of the study of local sorts the best ones have been included in the standard assortment and a big group has been used in the breeding as initial materials both in Armenia and in other countries. Especially in Nikitin botanic garden a great number of Armenian sorts have been used in breeding of peach tree and apricot tree. The gene pool of Armenia was created by people in the course of selection process. The local cultural sorts have been got from wild Armeniaca vulgaris Lam sort by means of culturization. Till now in Armenia small fruit wild apricot trees can be met and in the most ancient centers of apricot tree cultivation have been protected different semi–cultured kinds as well as plum–apricot Armeniaca vulgaris and Prunus cerasifera natural hybrid. The gene pool of apricot tree contains more than 50 species of apricot, their clones and the latest elite hybrid group. The local ecogroup differs from other ecogroups by morphological, biological and physiological features. The trees are famous for their rich growing and long living. At the middle age the height is 4-4.5 m. and the length is 7-10 m., according to its height Sateni, White, Green, Red, Aghjanabad sorts are considered to be weak growing. The traces of the majority of sorts are ball – shaped, with rich leaves, the branches are thick, strong, the leaves and the flowers are big. Nachijevan, Ordubad, Yerevan, Khosroveni, Dexnanush, Kanacheni, Karmrenni, Hamban sorts have Armenian origin. These sorts with history of 6000 years are the result of Armenian nation’s culture. The standard assortment includes the following main local best sorts: Yellow Nachijevanik (Novrast Nachijevan) – Yellow Nachijevanik occurs rare and as it is seen from its name it comes from Nachijevan. The tree has medium growth, the leaves are mediocre, wide egg–shaped, the flowers are small, the sepals are ellipse–shaped, light green, light colored, the petals are round, light wavy, light rose, the fruits are small, almost regularly ball–shaped, the top is almost smooth, the pulp is yellow–white, tender, juicy, sour–sweet, with light aroma, the marrow is sweet. It is valuable for early sorts breeding. Red Nachijevanik - This sort was imported from Nachijevan and is comparatively less spread and can mainly be met in gardens round Yerevan. The tree has medium growth, the crust and the branches are red–brown, the leaves are mediocre, stretched egg–shaped, long, with smooth base, the flowers are mediocre, sepals are conical, petals are round, white, the fruits are small, round, smooth in the base, with round top, the pulp is golden, with rough traces, juicy, sweet, the surface is less rough, the marrow is sweet. The red Nachijevanik has the best quality among the local early growing sorts. Yerevani (Shalach) – Yerevani is met in every apricot cultivating region. The tree is rich, the trunk is with strongly rough crust, the leaves are big, wide egg–shaped, the base is round, the flowers are big, the sepals are conical sometimes round, bare, the fruits are mediocre or big, ellipse–shaped or egg–shaped, the pulp separates from the stone, dense, juicy, golden, sweet-sour, with pleasant taste and tender aroma. Among the local sorts Yerevani is one of most cold resistant sorts. It is considered to have the best quality both in fresh condition and for preserving. Aghjanabad – It is less met especially in Yerevan. The tree is rich, foliage is ball– shaped, the leaves are big round or wide, egg–shaped, the edge is long, the flowers are big, white, the sepals are round, the fruits are small, flat round, with flat top, the skin is thick, the pulp is white–yellow, separates from the stone, juicy, sweet, without aroma, the stone can be big or mediocre, round or wide egg–shaped, with smooth surface. This sort is appreciated by people for its sweet taste which are good for making dried fruit and marmalade as well as for using it freshly. Khosroveni (Chosrovshahi)–Khosroveni is mainly spread in Yerevan in old gardens and in Ararat Valley. The tree is rich, very powerful, the leaves are big, flat round or heart–shaped, the flowers are big, the sepals are round, the fruits are changeable, mediocre, the pulp is orange- golden, separate from the stone, juicy, medium strength. The taste is pleasant, sweet–sour, with light aroma. The stone is mediocre. Chosroveni is long living and fruitful. It is considered to be a wonderful sort for making compote, marmalade and sweets. Sateni (Tabarza) – Sateni is the most wide spread apricot tree in Armenia. The tree is very rich, the branches are flexible, thin, hung, the leaves can be mediocre, flat, round or heart – shaped, the flowers are mediocre, the sepals are conical, petal is round, white, stamens are rose, the fruits are mediocre, round, the pulp is orange, separates from the stone, is strong, very sweet, with specific taste, light aroma, the stone is comparatively big, wide egg–shaped, the surface is a little rough, the marrow is sweet. The red Sateni with its fruit quality is considered to be one of the best sorts among the local ones. This sort is good for using freshly besides dried fruit and marmalade is made. Deghnanoush (Sari badam) - Deghnanoush is comparatively less spread, is met in Shahoumyan and Yerevan. The tree has mediocre growth, the crust is grey and brown, foliage is hung, spread, the leaves are big, round egg–shaped, the flowers are mediocre, the sepals conical, petal round, white, the fruits are mediocre, ellipse. They are rich in dry materials, the stone is big, the marrow is sweet and full. The fruits are good for dried fruit, marmalade, compote. Plum–apricot – Several sorts are known by name plum–apricot which belong to the Armeniaca dasycarpa Ehrh species growing in Manjuria and Afghanistan which is also the natural hybrid of Armeniaca vulgaris apricot and Prunus cerasifera plum. This type with all its features is considered to be in the middle of plum and apricot. Plum–apricot with its separate trees can be met in Yerevan, Ashtarak, Shahumyan, Artashat. There are both black fruit and yellow fruit kinds. Compared with apricot they blossom later as a result of which they are of great importance for breeding of late blossoming cold-resistant species. Red type (Giogjanabad) – The red type is comparatively less spread, and is met mainly in Yerevan and Shahoumyan. The tree has medium richness, the crust is brown, the leaves are mediocre, round and wide, egg-shaped, the flowers are small. The whole cup is reddish. Fruits are medium, with smooth top, the pulp is strong, it is dry or little juicy, orange, the taste is very sweet, with aroma. The red type is not worth for compote, it is good for marmalade and dried fruit. Almond apricot (badam-arik) – Almond–apricot is quite wide spread in regions where apricot is cultivated. The tree is rich, the crust is grey-brown, the foliage is spread, ball–shaped, the leaves are mediocre, round–egg–shaped, the flowers are medium, the cup appearance is colored and inside is green, the fruits are mediocre, stretched, egg–shaped, a little squeezed, the pulp is green–orange, sweet, with aroma, of medium quality, the surface is rough, the marrow is big. The fruits are mainly used freshly. Hybrids’ vegetative and generative organs’ comparative researches made on different groups of apricot tree show that Armenian sorts with their valuable peculiarities are more valuable than the middle Asian and European representatives. Probably these species that have more cultured features have older origin. J. B. Lamarque said. "The initial creatures that come from ancient times were able to pass gradually all the organic advances and reach the highest point where we are at present”. And the proof of it is the Armenian sorts of apricot, their beautiful flowers, big leaves, high qualities of its fruits.
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