This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Amygdalus Persica - is, according to the common opinion, of Persian origin. Dio-dorus Siculus says that it was carried from Persia into Egypt during the time that Cambyses ruled over that country. It is supposed to have been transported from thence into Greece, and after a lapse of time into Italy, where it only began to be known about twenty years before the birth of Pliny, that is, about seven years before the Christian era, and it appears that Columella was the first to treat of its cultivation there. According to Nicander, it was brought to Greece by the agency of Perseus from Cepheia, a locality affirmed by some to have been in Persia, by others in AEthiopia, or in Chaldaea. The peach is also spoken of by Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and other Greek writers. We must, therefore, conclude that this fruit was well known in the East very long before its introduction into Italy. Many ancient writers, including Athenaeus and Pliny, and more recent ones, as, for instance, Marcellus Virgilius, in his " Commentaries on Dioscorides," confound the peach with the persea, a fruit the identity of which is uncertain, some supposing it to be a Cordia, others a Balanites. Macrobius again confounds the peach with the persicum of Suevius, which is the walnut, and with that of Cloatius, which is the citron; all fruits resembling the peach in nothing but in the name, a clear proof that it cannot have been in their days by any means a common fruit.
How few were the varieties of peach known to the ancients appears from Dioscorides, who only names two, from Pliny, who enumerates five, and Palladius four only, giving, at the same time, accurate information on the mode of cultivating them. Although all the evidence collected by Professor Targioni tends to show that the peach was, originally, brought from Persia, and he, therefore, does not consider it necessary to proceed further with the investigation; yet, no traveler whom we can rely upon, has ever found it growing really wild there or anywhere else. We are left in doubt whether its native stations remain yet to be discovered, or whether its original wild type must be sought for in some species of Amygdalus known to be indigenous in the East. It has been more than once suggested that this original parent is no other than the common almond, a conjecture founded, perhaps, on the similarity in the leaves, and in the perforations of the endocarp, but rejected as absurd by those who attach even generic importance to the succulence of the indehiscent pericarp.
This point cannot be decided with any degree of plausibility until we shall have a better knowledge of the different forms which the fruits of the wild Amygdali may assume under various circumstances; but we may mention, as circumstances in some degree favoring the supposition, that some kind of almond is the parent of the peach, the ancient tradition referred to by Targioni (with the remark that is contradicted by Pliny, and by common sense) that the peach in Persia was poisonous, and became innocuous when transported to Egypt, and the case quoted of a supposed hybrid raised in 1831 in Sig. Giuseppe Bartolucci's garden, at Colle di Val d' Else, from a peach stone which produced fruits at first exactly like almonds, but which, as they ripened, assumed the appearance and succulence of peaches, whilst the kernel remained sweet and oily, like those of almonds. We might also refer to some bad varieties of peach with very little juice to their pericarps, although we do not know of any which assume the flattened form of our almond, a distinctive character which appears to us to be of considerable importance.
The foliage and flowers of the two trees show little or no specific difference. - The Garden.