Nectarine (Ital. nettarino). When the nectarine was introduced into cultivation, or whether it was known to the ancients, is not ascertained. It is simply a peach with a smooth skin (see Peach), and nectarines have been raised from peach stones and vice versa. As early as 1741 Peter Collinson, in his correspondence with Linnasus, cited the case of a peach tree producing nectarines, an occurrence which has frequently been noticed in this country as well as in Europe; and one instance is recorded in which a nectarine tree at first bore fruit half nectarine and half peach, and subsequently bore a perfect peach. The Boston nectarine, one of the esteemed varieties, is known to have been raised from a peach stone. As with peaches, there are free-stone and cling-stone nectarines. In quality the nectarine is not so rich as the best peaches, but its flavor is distinct, and frequently strongly marked with the bitter-almond or prussic-acid flavor; but no fruit exceeds it in beauty, the wax-like skin being often of the richest shades of yellow and carmine. Something over 30 varieties are in the fruit catalogues, differing in size, color, time of ripening, etc. The Elruge and Violette Hative are the varieties most generally cultivated, the popularity of the latter being shown by its having about 15 synonymes.
So far as climate is concerned, the nectarine will succeed wherever the peach will, but it is much less seen in our gardens than formerly on account of the destruction of the fruit by the curculio; its smooth shining skin seems to offer an especially tempting place for the female curculio to deposit her eggs; by systematic jarring of the trees, as practised with the plum, a good share of the fruit might be saved. Under glass the nectarine reaches great perfection, and there are few finer sights in horticulture than a nectarine house in full bearing, at the time the fruit is ripening.