Apricot-Tree, the Primus Armeniaca, L. is a species of the plum, or cherry-tree. Although Linnjeus has reduced these different trees to one genus, which he calls Prunus, yet we shall in this place enumerate only the varieties known under the name of apricot:
1. The male, or early apricot, which produces a small, round, reddish fruit; has more stone than pulp, ripens in July, and has but an indifferent flavour. As this tree blossoms early in spring, it is liable to be injured by night-frosts, against which it ought to be protected, by placing contiguous to it shallow vessels rilled with water.
6. The Breda apricot, a native of Africa, is one of the finest and most delicious : its fruit is large and round, externally of a deep yellow, and internally of a golden, colour. Its kernel is the largest of the kind; and if this fruit arrive at maturity in an airy situation, it deserves an unqualified preference.
7. The Brussels apricot is of a middle size, somewhat oval; on its southern exposure red, with many dark spots, and greenish or deep yellow on the opposite side. Its fruit is firm, and of a delicious taste; the skin is apt to burst before the fruit is mature, and it seldom ripens until August or Sep-tember. Some amateurs even prefer it to the preceding species.— Lastly:
8. The peach apricot is more spherical and larger than any other species; while it possesses the sweetness of the apricot combined with the acidulated vinous taste of the peach. This tree, however, requires a temperate climate, and will not thrive in the open air of this country.
Culture. - All the varieties of apricot-trees have originally been, raised from their stones : they were then propagated by budding or graftng on any plum-stock. The soil most congenial to their nature, is a rich black mould; for they will not prosper in a loamy, sandy, gravelly, damp, or cold ground. As they are generally placed near walls, an eastern aspect will be the. most eligible and proper, because they are apt to grow mealy, from the strong and constant heat of the sun, in a southern direction. In a luxuriant bottom, they may be planted at a distance of sixteen or twenty feet from each other but in an inferior soil, from twelve to fifteen. When trans-planted in the month of October, no other branches ought to be pruned off, except such as cannot be fixed to the wall. After the tree has been properly set in the ground, its branches should be loosely tied, and the surface of the soil surrounding the stem covered with good manure, partly to prevent injury from frost, and to afford more nourishment to the roots. Towards the end of February, or beginning of March, the branches must be untied, and. the top of the tree cut off, while the operator's foot should be placed close to its trunk, and only four or five eyes are to be left above the place where it has been grafted: taking care that the ob-lique side of the cut be turned towards the wall.
During a dry spring, the roots may be occasionally watered, and covered with a little straw or grass plats, in order to protect them against night-frosts, and afford them additional moisture in summer. All the young shoots should be tied horizontally. About the end of September, the branches are again to be loosened, and pruned, so that two only may remain, one of a larger size, from eight to nine, and an inferior one, from five to six inches long.
In the second summer, all the straight shoots ought to be removed., as in the first, while the new sprigs are transversely fastened close to the wall, so that the trunk of the tree remain free: the pruning, however, should not be attempted later than in the course of April. About Michaelmas, the young shoots are again to be dressed, as in the preceding year; and the most vigorous left from eight to ten, but the weaker ones, only six or seven inches long.
A similar treatment must be pursued in the third and following years. It deserves farther to be remarked, that apricots bear their buds and blossoms not only on the branches of the preceding year, but likewise on the young shoots and tops of these branches : hence the dressing of them, during summer, ought to be performed with additional care.
Uses.—From the vinous and saccharine nature of this fruit we may readily conclude, that it is possessed of antiseptic, cooling, and nutritive properties; yet, unless fully ripe, it is apt to ferment and turn acid in weak stomachs, especially those of persons who are subject to flatulency and eructations : hence apricots ought to be eaten in moderation, with the addition of a little bread, and rather before, than after, meals. In short, they are more useful to bilious and plethoric, than to phlegmatic and hysterical individuals, or those troubled with hypochondriacal complaints.
In France and Germany, the orange apricot is usefully preserved in a dry state, for the winter, when it forms a delicious ingredient in pyes, tarts, etc.
The kernels of several species of apricots contain a sweet oil, on account of which they were formerly, like sweet almonds, used in emulsions, and considered as vulnerary and anodyne: at present, however, their use is confined to external applications, in which the expressed oil of these kernels has sometimes been of service, for a contracted and chapped skin of the hands and lips, sore nipples, painful ears, and similar cases.