This section is from the book "The Fruit Manual: Containing The Descriptions And Synonyms Of The Fruits And Fruit Trees Of Great Britain", by Robert Hogg. Also available from Amazon: The Fruit Manual.
Fruit, large, oval, marked on one side by a, distinct suture, which is higher on one side than the other. Skin, orange, covered next the sun with a crimson cheek, which is dotted with darker crimson. Flesh, deep yellow, firm, rich flavoured, and perfumed, separating freely from the stone, which is impervious. Kernel, bitter.
Fruit, of small size, oval, somewhat compressed on the sides, and marked with a shallow suture. Skin, pale yellow, with a slight tinge of red on the side next the sun. Flesh, yellowish, firm, adhering to the stone, juicy, and agreeably acid, but when well ripened it is highly perfumed. Stone, impervious, roundish. Kernel, bitter.
Ripe in the end of July, and generally used for preserving.
Fruit, large, roundish, and compressed on the sides, marked with a shallow suture, which is considerably swollen on one side, giving the fruit an irregular form. Skin, pale yellow on the shaded side, and deep orange clouded with brownish red, interspersed with brown and red specks, on the side next the sun. Stalk, inserted in a wide and open cavity, deeply furrowed on one side. Flesh, deep reddish orange, very juicy, particularly rich and vinous, and separating freely from the stone, which is large, rough, and rugged, and the back of which is not channelled but covered, preserving a cavity which is filled with fibre, and through which a pin may be passed from one end to the other. Kernel, bitter.
A well-known apricot of great excellence; ripe on walls in the end of August and beginning of September.
The tree is a free grower in its early stages, producing long and strong shoots, and acquiring a luxuriance which is not conducive to the production of fruit. To counteract this should be the chief aim of the cultivator. The way to do this is to root-prune the tree about the beginning of August, by removing a portion of the soil and cutting away some of the strongest of the roots. This will check the too abundant supply of sap, diminish the excessive production of wood, regulate the development of the tree, and consequently tend to a production of fruit. A south-east aspect is the best on which to grow the Moorpark. If grown on a south wall it ripens unequally, the side next the sun being quite ripe when the other is hard.
There is a disease to which the Moorpark is liable, and which is sometimes attended with very serious consequences. It shows itself first in the leaves, which all of a sudden flag and wither away, and the branch which bears them dies. Frequently a whole limb, or the whole of one side of a tree, will exhibit this appearance in the space of a few hours. This effect arises, not as some say from the stock on which it is worked, or the soil on which it is planted, for it is met with on every description of stock and in all kinds of soil. It is not the result of a languid circulation, for trees in the full vigour of growth are as subject to it as those which are aged and going to decay; but it is because of the naturally delicate constitution of this variety, which cannot withstand uninjured this variable climate of ours. It is caused from injuries received by frost either in spring or early summer, or in winter after a wet autumn when the wood has not been properly ripened. The frost lacerates the sap vessels of the external layers of the wood, and the circulation is limited to the inner layers. When vegetation commences, and after the leaves are fully developed on the injured branch, the demand on the powers of the branch for a supply of sap to the leaves fails, and when the sun becomes powerful and evaporation increases the supply becomes proportionately less, and for want of nourishment the leaves flag and the branch withers and dies.
I doubt very much if there is any material difference between the Moorpark and the Peach Apricot. As the Peach Apricot reproduces itself from the stone many seedlings have been raised from it, to which the raisers have given names; but these so closely resemble the original in every particular, that they are not worthy of being looked upon as distinct. I believe the Moorpark is one of these; it resembles the Peach Apricot so closely as not to be distinguishable from it; and the only character to show that they are not identical is, that the Moorpark will grow on the common plum and mussel stock, while the Peach will not, and the Moorpark does not grow on the Damas Noir, while the Peach Apricot does.
The Moorpark Apricot is said by some to have been introduced by Lord Anson from the Continent, and planted at Moorpark, near Watford, in Hertfordshire. By others its introduction is ascribed to Sir Thomas More, who, in the beginning of last century, is also said to have planted it at Moorpark; and a third account is that Sir William Temple introduced it. But by whomsoever it was raised or introduced, or at what period, it is quite certain it was very little known till late in the century. Neither Hitt nor Miller notices it in any of the editions of their works. I do not find it mentioned in any of the Brompton Park catalogues before 1784, when it is called Temple Apricot. In 1788 it is first called Moorpark. In 1784 it was cultivated to the extent of three rows, or 300 plants; but in 1797 the quantity was increased to thirty-five rows, or 3,500 plants.