Apricot trees originated in China and were eventually spread throughout Europe by the Romans. The apricot tree not only produces a healthy, nutritious fruit but also adds an extra dash of curb appeal to your home with its gorgeous, fragrant spring flowers. Apricots don't store well, so eat them fresh, can them, or dry and freeze them for later use in baked goods, jam or jelly.
The cold-hardy Chinese apricot is recommended for climates that are prone to late spring frosts. Considered a semi-dwarf, the Chinese apricot reaches 15 to 20 feet. Trees produce a spectacular display of white flowers in early spring. The green leaves are shiny and smooth on top and slightly fuzzy underneath, and they turn golden yellow to deep red in the fall. The Chinese apricot ripens early and is orange to yellow-orange in color with yellow flesh. The trees will thrive in USDA hardinesss zones 4 through 7. Use the Chinese apricot for baking, canning or drying.
The vigorous, frost-resistant Tilton apricot tree bears a heavy crop. The Tilton grows in USDA zones 5 through 9 and is cold-hardy. Trees reach 15 to 25 feet and begin blooming in early April. Flowers are white or light pink and are lightly scented. The Tilton has narrow, medium-green leaves. The Tilton apricot is heart-shaped and medium in size, with light orange skin. Flesh is firm and has a golden color with a slight red blush. Tilton apricots are best when canned, dried or frozen.
Considered one of the best backyard apricots for warm winters, the Gold Kist will flourish in USDA zones 5 through 9, growing 15 to 30 feet tall. Gold Kist apricot trees have green, glossy foliage and fragrant white or pink flowers in the early spring. Leaves turn a bright gold to deep orange during the fall months. The fruit is large, firm and orange in color. Its sweet rich flavor makes it ideal for drying, canning and in baked goods.
The petite Manchurian apricot tree is native to Manchuria and Korea. The winter-hardy Manchurian is fast-growing and reaches heights of 10 to 15 feet. Trees will thrive in USDA zones 3 through 7. Leaf color is light green in summer, yellow-orange in the fall. The Manchurian produces delicate white-pink flowers that bloom in early to mid-spring. Manchurian fruits have a peach color and are best used for preserves or in baking.