Types of Apricot Trees
The apricot tree is a hardy, though finicky, fruit. Although there are mainly three different types of native apricot—the Chinese apricot, Japanese apricot and desert apricot—the tree has been cultivated successfully in the United States, and several varieties of the apricot tree are available for planting. The trees do well in areas with cold winters, warm springs and dry summers.
Chinese Apricot and Cultivars
The Chinese apricot is native to northern China and throughout central Asia. The tree reaches a height of around 33 feet, with dark brown bark and oval leaves. Its genus, Prunus armeniaca, has been cultivated widely over the centuries and there are varieties available for planting in several growing regions. In the United States, these types include Deatrich, Gldcot, Hargrand, Jerseycot, Puget gold and Vivagold.
The Japanese apricot, also called the winter plum, is not native to the United States but can be grown in southern climates in hardiness zones 6 through 8, according to The United States Department of Agriculture. The tree grows to a height of 20 feet and its bark is thin and prone to injury. The leaves are oval shaped and the tree flowers in late winter and early spring. The fruit is edible, although sour, and is routinely pickled and eaten in Japan.
The desert apricot, classified as a tree-shrub, is native to the southwestern United States. The tree grows to a height of 12 feet and its bark is reddish-brown. The leaves are rounded ovals and the flowers bloom in the early spring. The fruit, which is edible and eaten by wildlife, ripens in the summer. The tree usually grows in canyons in sandy soil.
Planting Sites For Apricot Trees
Standard apricot trees reach up to 30 feet tall, but they can be kept at 15 feet tall with pruning. Strong winds damage apricot tree branches and leaves. Winds can strip blossoms and fruit from the branches. Look for a site protected from harsh winds. If the site is located in a windy area, plant dense shrubs and trees to act as a windbreak. The soil needs to retain moisture without being soggy because the trees are not drought-tolerant. Do not plant in soil with high amounts of clay or sand. Appropriate sites for apricot trees contain rich soil to the depth of 4 to 6 feet. Loosen the soil up with a shovel in the area before planting. Standing water over the root zone tends to cause root rot.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees of the World; Tony Russell, Catherine Cutler and Martin Walters; 2007
- The United States Department of Agriculture
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Trees of North America; Keith Rushforth and Charles Hollis; 2006
- Sunset: Apricot Trees
- Monrovia: Chinese Apricot
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: Planting
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: Site Selection