History Of Peach Trees, Prunus Persica

Peach trees, Prunus persica, are originally believed to have come from China to the Mideast through the trade routes known to extend to Turkey and Iran (Persia). The peach seeds could be used to plant and grow trees throughout North Africa and Europe and finally were introduced to America in the mid 1500’s. The first appearance of peaches in China may date back to 2000 BC.

Historians believe that peach trees were first introduced into the colonial settlements of the United States by the French explorers in 1562 at territories along the Gulf coastal region near Mobile, Alabama, then by the Spaniards who established Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565 on the Atlantic seaboard. The peach trees were planted from peach seed imported from Europe in an effort to establish a self sustaining, agricultural. fruit tree product to feed the colonists. American Indians spread the planting of the peach trees throughout vast territories by transporting the peach seed to other tribes that lived in the interior regions. This new crop of fruit was fast growing, producing a delicious peach two or three years from planting. The trees were so productive and vigorous that sometimes, widespread impenetrable thickets became established from the peach seeds that fell to the ground from fruit unharvested. The illusion was formed by settlers after 1600 that the peach trees were native to the United States, since they were so widely spread and grew so vigorously everywhere.
Captain John Smith wrote about peach trees that were growing in Jamestown, Virginia in 1629. William Penn recorded in 1683 that dense, native thickets of wild peach trees were full of fruit just north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The first plant nursery to become established in the United States was the Prince Nursery of Flushing, New York, in 1774 that sold grafted cultivars of peach trees to customers. General George Washington visited this nursery and had previously purchased fruit from them. An extensive group of grafted peach trees was sent to the Thomas Jefferson fruit tree orchards from Prince Nursery. President Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in the importation of many new agricultural products from Europe through his influence as Minister to France before the American Revolution. The aggressiveness and monumental fruit production of peach trees impressed him to establish a “living fence,” that encircled his expansive gardens at his home at Monticello, Virginia, in 1794. Jefferson found many other uses for peach trees such as the brewing of brandy in 1782. Jefferson wrote to his granddaughter, Martha, in 1818 that a slave “is busy drying peaches for you.” These sun-dried peaches were called “peach chips” and retained a good quality for eating, even after months of storage. Peaches were juiced and mixed with tea to form a delicious drink. In December of 1795, Jefferson planted 1151, peach trees after he had experimented with planting in 1807, the “black plumb peach of Georgia,” (Indian Blood Cling Peach). This naturalized peach wonder had been planted throughout the State of Georgia by the Indians and was a dark-red velvety color with tiger-like striping. This fragrant peach was extremely desirable because of its rich coloring and taste. Also, this peach was a perfect size to peel and pickle into a Southern holiday treat. This aromatic peach was ideal to make into jams, preserves, cobblers, pies, cakes, and ice cream. Jefferson believed that this Indian cling blood peach was a cross between naturalized peach trees and a French cultivar peach, “Sanguinole.”

William Bartram, the famous American botanist and explorer, wrote in his book, Travels, in 1773 several accounts of his observations of ancient peach and plum orchards growing in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Bartram visited the ruins of a French plantation in 1776 near Mobile, Alabama, and recorded “I came presently to old fields, where I observed ruins of ancient habitations, there being abundance of peach and fig trees loaded with fruit.”

Peach trees are grown primarily as a fruit tree; however, great interest in the non-fruiting, flowering peach tree was shown by President Thomas Jefferson who planted a double flowered tree that spectacularly bloomed at his home in Virginia in 1805. Flowering peach trees rate high, and desirable new cultivars of ornamental peach trees are available for planting and flowering with colors of white, pink, red, and peppermint (a mixture of red and white flower petals). These flowering peach trees are sterile in fruit production and bloom early in the spring, loaded with large colorful clusters of single or double flowered peach petals.

Peaches are less popular as a fresh fruit than a few years ago, primarily because most commercial peach cultivars (varieties) are tailored by hybridizers to grow and ship as a firm fruit. The firmness of these peaches is important when a grower considers shipping the peach fruit long distances, but not enough attention has been given by plant hybridizers to saving the ancient qualities of aroma, juiciness, flavor, and seed separation from the pulp. Another problem damaging fresh peach sales is that the labor hired to pick the fruit from the tree is not properly trained nor personally concerned in the ultimate ripening of the peach fruit into a juicy, soft, delicious, tasty peach. The peaches are simply picked too soon and too firm to provide a fruit product that compared to a backyard orchard, tree-ripened delicacy that our older citizens often experienced in their grandfather’s back yard garden.

Most of the peaches grown by commercial orchards today are fruits that are harvested while too firm with a seed that clings to the pulp called a “clingstone” peach. The best flavored peaches ripen soft and the seed easily separates from the edible portion, and these are called “freestone” peaches.

Peach trees grown in the United States differ greatly from the aggressive, disease resistant, tasty, aromatic fruits grown by the early Americans. Over the centuries, the immune qualities of the peach trees to insects and diseases have been bred out by hybridizers, and these qualities have been replaced by inferior genes that make it difficult to buy a good flavorful peach at the store. The alternative to this problem is to buy tree ripened soft fruit at a fruit stand, pick-your-own orchard, or to grown your own backyard garden peaches concentrating on planting and growing old cultivars of the non-commercial home garden types.

Peach trees in American have steadily declined in vigor in the past 300 years, to the point that the life expectancy is only 15-20 years or less. This factor has been explained by some fruit tree observers as due to an array of incremental factors, such as disease and insect weakening of the tree and leaves, nematodes, and improper soils and drainage; however, these problems pre-existed in the environment, when peach trees were introduced into America. The likely explanation of peach tree decline is more probably connected to the weak gene immunity that has appeared in peach tree hybridization focused toward commercial tree production that ends with an early, firm peach, clingstone, with shipping advantages to distant markets.

The peach tree grows into a handsome canopy of dark-green rich foliage to a height of 6 to 10 feet. Most peach trees available in the United States are adapted and grown successfully in over 30 states. The grafted semi-dwarf peach trees are self pollinated, even before the flowers fully open, and the tree is cold hardy to negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit; however, the red to pink delicate flowers can be damaged by temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Some orchardists like light frosts that will thin the bloom set, producing larger fruit. If extremely heavy flowering occurs, the excess flowers can be removed to 6 inch intervals, or by a chemical thinning that results in a much more marketable crop of fruit.

A developing peach can grow in various sizes of individual fruits on the same tree that requires considerable grading before marketing. The peach is covered with a characteristic fuzz that some growers prefer to reduce or removed mechanically before sales. A nectarine is nothing more than a fuzzless peach, even though certain distinct cultivars of nectarines are offered. In his classic 12 volume book of botanical insight in 1921, Luther Burbank in Fruit Improvement believed that the peach had evolved from a nectarine-like ancestor with the fuzz developing as a shield of protection, unlike the fuzzless nectarine. He theorized that the fuzz shielded the fruit from sunshine, moisture, wind, insect, and disease damage. The nectarine, he felt, was repressed by evolutionary restraints, because the nectarine lacked fuzz as a protective armor. The cousin of the nectarine, the almond, was crossed by Burbank in order to create a nectarine fruit with an edible almond pit, thus two crops from one hybridization, a fruit and an edible nut. Burbank also performed many interspecific crosses of peach with nectarine. The peach is quite fragile and subject to bruising if handled roughly.

Peach trees require a certain number of chilling hours in order to break dormancy properly and set a good crop of fruit. During a season most States will experience 500 chill hours in the winter; however, in many states, like central and southern Florida, the trees will not fruit properly unless cultivars are planted to fulfill low chilling requirements. It is very important to plant and grow peach trees on well drained soils. The fruit tastes better if trees are planted in the full sun, so that the early morning light will dry the dew on the peach leaves and fruit. Peach trees should be planted 12-15 feet apart in rows and will benefit by the application of lime and phosphate fertilizers around the ground beneath the branches. Weeds will be prevented in backyard orchards by heavily mulching, but otherwise the weeds should be mowed or sprayed with herbicides. Several kinds of peach varieties are usually planted to extend the availability and ripening of the fruit on the trees. Many cultivars are recommended for planting, such as: the Belle of Georgia, Elberta, Hale Haven, Harvester, Indian Blood Cling, Red Haven, Reliance, Gala, May Gold, Southern Pearl, Suwanee, Florida King, Florida Dawn, and many other low chill Florida fruiting cultivars.

Peaches contain antioxidants that are important health considerations in maintaining healthy bodies. Many websites that recommend eating pits of peaches or apricots to prevent cancer should be urged to research the fact that the seeds contain a poison organic chemical, cyanogen, which produces fatal cyanide poisoning that has caused sudden death for many people, including Steve McQueen, a famous movie actor of the last century.

Peach fruit has been demonstrated to contain healthy portions of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, and Niacin. Peaches also contain the minerals Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Potassium.

Peach trees may be planted in various semi-dwarf sizes and ages for backyard fruit gardens and occasionally larger trees will grow fruit the first year of planting, but small trees usually begin bearing in the third year.

By: Pat Malcolm -

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Patrick A. Malcolm, owner of TyTy Nursery, has an M.S. degree in Biochemistry and has cultivated peach trees for over three decades. Access Diabetic Supplies

Persian Rugs - A Weaving History

Carpet and rug weaving in Iran (Persia) dates back to 3500 years in the bronze age, according to some experts. The oldest evidences of this art date back to the third to fifth centuries AD discovered in Eastern Turkestan, and hand-weavings of the Seljuks of Asia Minor. Carpets from Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) in the 16th century are also some of the earliest products in the history of carpet-weaving.

Although weaving of Persian rugs is predominantly mechanized now, the most popular and expensive ones are still hand woven in many parts of Iran, such as Baluch Rugs, Shiraz Rugs, and Wiss Rugs etc still reflecting the rich art and culture of ancient Persia. The Carpet Museum of Iran in Tehran houses some of the best works in the history of Persian rug weaving.

The motifs in Persian rugs commonly consist of scrolling vine networks, arabesques, palmettes, cloud bands, medallions, and overlapping geometric compartments, with silk, wool and cotton as foundations. The designs are mostly intricate bearing little resemblance to one another but unique to the specific type. However, there are some universal styles of weaving, pattern and design commonly used.

Single and double tied rugs differentiate Anatolian or Turkish and Persian rugs. Anatolian carpets are double tied – which means that for every vertical strand of thread in the rug, it has two knots. The Persian rug is single tied so it has only one knot. This allows finer image to appear on the final product because only the minimum amount of space is given for each vertical strand. This method has largely contributed to the Persian rug’s exquisiteness and popularity.

Persian city rugs such as Isfahan, Nain, Qum, Tabriz, Mashad, Kerman, Kashan etc are made with intricate designs of buds and blossoms supported by vines and tendril, and bordered by arabesques that interlace creating a well-balanced tone. Solid color filed central medallions and triangular corners are also commonly used in design. Central motif or medallion may also be replaced by an all-over design of repetitive floral icons. Blues, reds, browns, and greens are also predominant to create a lavish whole. Ground colors of border and field generally contrast without disrupting the harmony. The curvilinear pattern is achieved by increasing the intensity of knots, usually a 200-300 KPSI (knots per square inch), creating a visually curved line.

Persian Tribal rugs are usually made with natural raw materials such as dye, and mostly hand-woven. They generally have 80-100 KPSI, and designs are mostly geometric which are easier to achieve with wider spaced knots. Traditional dense floral patterns with vases, foliage, palmettes, and garden elements, small animals or plants etc are commonly used in design. These rugs are woven by the tribes in Iranian villages such as Wiss, near Hamedan; Shiraz, Central Iran; Baluch tribe in southern Iran etc. There are also tribal weavers of Caucasian and Turkoman origins. Some of the Persian tribal rugs are quite exception with weaving method following ancient Persian tradition, dating back to thousands of years.

Carpet and rug weaving in Iran (Persia) dates back to 3500 years in the bronze age, according to some experts. The oldest evidences of this art date back to the third to fifth centuries AD discovered in Eastern Turkestan, and hand-weavings of the Seljuks of Asia Minor. Carpets from Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) in the 16th century are also some of the earliest products in the history of carpet-weaving.

Although weaving of Persian rugs is predominantly mechanized now, the mos...

Persian Rugs can enhance your home. Discover the joys of owning a Woven Persian rug!

The History And Evolution Of Banana Hybrids

Bananas are the world’s favorite fruit and many nations depend on banana trees to supply its citizens with this delicious food product to save them from famines. Bananas are available on markets year round and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, containing only small hollow seed that are infertile. Ornamental bananas, ‘Musa ensete’ and ‘Musa nana’ are inedible but in high demand for landscaping.

India is the world’s largest producer of bananas and Alexander the Great found them growing there in 327 BC, when he conquered India. Soldiers of Alexander the Great returned to Greece and Persia with bulbs from banana plants, ‘Musa accuminata,’ where they were distributed and planted.
Antonius Musa, the personal physician of Augustus Caesar, imported the first banana trees, ‘Musa accuminata,’ to Rome from Africa in 63 BC. Later, slaves from Portugal brought bananas to Europe from Africa in the early 1400’s. Even though the banana is believed to have originated in India, (Eastern Asia), it was established in Africa and Europe as a staple food product many centuries ago and came into North America through Spanish missionaries.

Those first bananas that people knew in antiquity were not sweet like the bananas we know today, but were cooking bananas or plantain bananas with a starchy taste and composition. The bright yellow bananas that we know today were discovered as a mutation from the plantain banana by a Jamaican, Jean Francois Poujot, in the year 1836. He found this hybrid mutation growing in his banana tree plantation with a sweet flavor and a yellow color—instead of green or red, and not requiring cooking like the plantain banana. The rapid establishment of this new exotic fruit was welcomed worldwide, and it was massively grown for world markets.

Bananas are the world’s best selling fruit, outselling both apples and citrus; each American is estimated to eat 25 pounds of fruit every day. The ‘Cavendish’ banana is the most popular banana in the United States and over 400 cultivars of bananas are available on world markets. The leaves of banana trees are used as wrappers for steaming other foods inside, and the banana flower is also edible.

Each banana comes from a flower maturing into groups of 10-20 bananas called “hands” that circle the stalk, which collectively is called a ‘bunch.’ The bananas can require one year to mature after flowering in the field, and then the mother banana plant dies. The plant is restored the following season by offshoots from the mother plant. An original cluster of banana trees can grow continuously for 100 years, but are generally replaced in banana tree plantations after 25 years. Bananas ripen best and develop more sweetness, if the bunch is removed from the tree, allowing the fruit to ripen off the tree in a shady place to slowly ripen.

The banana tree can grow up to 30 feet tall, and the trunk of the tree grows to a width at the base of over 1 foot. The trunk of the banana plant is made of overlapping sheaths and stems with new growth emerging from the center of the trunk. The size of bananas can range from a fruit the size of a football to one as small as a child’s finger. Some bananas taste sweet, some starchy and some ornamental bananas are loaded with large seed and are considered inedible. The color of ripe bananas can range from green, orange, brown, yellow, or variegated with white stripes.

Most banana trees available today are grown from “mother” bulbs by taking offsets that form shoots. Those can be replanted to multiply and increase a banana tree plantation. These banana sprouts that form at the base of the ‘mother’ bulb can be shipped around the world to many countries, being almost genetically identical to the original banana plant parent of 10,000 years ago that mutated and stopped making seed and became the first naturally evolved hybrid.

Bananas are the largest exported fruit in the world, registering sales of 12 billion dollars a year for Chiquita and Dole. These bananas are imported into the United States from companies and plantations growing banana trees in India, South America and Africa. Many third world countries depend on the production of bananas to feed them as a major food staple, where they eat bananas 3 meals a day. Bananas are rich in sugars such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose, as well as fiber and special minerals containing potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Bananas contain tryptophan, a body protein that is converted to serotonin, a mood enhancer. They also are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C. Doctors claim that eating bananas can cut the risk of sudden stroke by 40%, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

By: Pat Malcolm -

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Patrick A. Malcolm, owner of TyTy Nursery, has an M.S. degree in Biochemistry and has cultivated banana plants for over three decades.

Tradition And Style In A Persian Rug

Why buy a Persian rug and use it as an area rug? Let us have a look over what area rugs are all about. We all know it: some of the most important elements of homes and spaces in general are the floor coverings and there is hardly a house or apartment without a rug or a carpet. Rugs come in many shapes and sizes and there are thousand of different designs for each one. There are stylish and modern rugs, for places like art expositions or galleries – to fit in or maybe complete the artistic atmosphere of the room. There are also enormous area rugs that match ceiling architectural patterns and cover the halls of museums or public institutions, like Parliament buildings or various palaces and many others.

Although there is a whole rug industry, one must admit that few equal the genuine Persian rugs. A Persian rug has always been the jewel of one’s home. Since the times of the ancient kings and their great empires, Persian rugs have held renown for their finesse and fine appearance. Their tradition lived on to this very day, when handcrafters still manufacture them with great care, to preserve the same qualities that always charmed their lucky owners. Next, we will go over a brief history of Persian rugs and we will learn why buying one as an area rug could be one of the best choices you will ever make in decorating your home.
The earliest Persian rug patterns and designs historically date back to the 15th century, although paintings and writings tend to indicate their existence to even older times, to Ancient Persia (c 3500 BC). They generally range within three groups, based on their size and named accordingly: Farsh - 'Qalii' (greater than 6x4 feet), ‘Qalicheh’ (‘rug’ in translation – 6x4 feet or smaller) and Nomadic (Kilim) – representing rough carpets.

The art of creating rugs exists in Iran since c. 500 BC. It has undergone many changes, based on the political, religious and social aspects of the time passing. There were always many varieties of the themes and styles used, like various geometrical patterns. Moreover, the art displayed mainly focuses on Islamic culture. It has always offered great stories which represented a steady pillar in the creation of the carpets, providing spectacular images of surreal events (godly battles in the skies, hyperbolical features of heroes and gods or simply tales that will live forever in the worldwide culture) – writings that will always offer sensational and mind-thrilling feelings.

The most sought-after type of Persian area rug in, let us say, modern times, is the 16th or 17th century woven Persian rug. One of the most remarkable rugs discovered in modern times is the “Pazyryk” carpet, uncovered beneath the Pazyryk valley, during an archaeological excavation back in 1949, in the tomb of a Scythian prince. Readings showed that its manufacture occurred during the 5th century BC, thus being one of the oldest carpets in the world.

Common 16th and 17th century carpets designs include scrolling vine networks, medallions as well as arabesques and overlapping geometric compartments instead of humans, animals or story-inspired imagery, like the older ones. These motifs will always bring a great artistic touch to every floor they will cover, their royal allure also carrying their well-earned reputation of the great kings’ universal preference in matter of exquisite decorations.

Their lucky owners will nevertheless have to worry about maintaining the “lifespan” of their Persian rug, as it would a pity to treat such a fine work of art without care. In this matter, you can always find the help you need online. Here, on our website, you will find reviews and recommendations concerning all there is to know about how to choose an appropriate area rug or Persian rug and all the other details necessary for owning such a precious floor covering.

By: Rick Martin

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You will find more information concerning how to choose and to maintain a Persian rug or area rug in general, here, on our website.

German Memories In Asia: Travelling Through The Ancient Kingdoms!

While I was watching the Lagoon I pondered how the capital of Nagas had shifted from Kudiramalai to Nallur. Ruins of the palace of the then Naga capital in Nallur have been revealed in recent excavations embodying many stories of the lost Naga kingdom.

The vicinity of the lagoon was suddenly lost by the mangroves aside of the highway by the speedily hurrying vehicle and brought my attention to the northern highway towards Jaffna town. While our vehicle was passing the Jaffna Lagoon and the then Elephant Pass camp vicinity we reached the Iyakkachchi area, an early settlement of Yakkas, a tribal group who were living in the era of Nagas together in the Island.
The ‘Yakkas’, possibly early immigrants from Persia, were numerous and very powerful, and held themselves aloof and confined themselves mostly to the mountain fastnesses of the North- Central region of the Island, whereas the 'Nagas' confined themselves to the seaboard. Ptolemy, the famous Greek-speaking geographer and astronomer who lived in the Roman Egypt called the Mahaweli River as Phasis fluvius, which means the Persian river, indicating that the Yakkas, who dwelt there, were connected to the Persians. The Yakkas also could have been the indigenous people of Persia and might have escaped to Sri Lanka when the invaders were advancing towards their territory by sea or land from Persia.

Kuveni was the queen of Yakkhas and became the consort of Prince Vijaya(B.C. 543-504) who eventually became the first Indo-Aryan king of Sri Lanka with the Kalinga ancestory. Later he married a princess from the Dravidian Kingdom of “Pandy” in South India.

Some of the German Praktikum (internship) students were tired and in a sleepy mood. They might have not had enough sleep because of the strange environment. For students it is an option to travel out of Germany to complete their internship. Several students are coming to Asia, especially to AGSEP in Sri Lanka. The students who were with me in the Northern relief mission are also one batch of students of those who were in their overseas study tour.

When we were passing by the last end of the then Elephant Pass Military camp, sea birds were flying around the shallow water and busily fishing for their night meal.

After nearly a decade when I was traveling with the German students through Elephants Pass, watching the same Lagoon where I crossed at midnights struck how things were changing the world over in an unbelievably short time.

By: Rajkumar Kanagasingam

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Rajkumar Kanagasingam is author of a fascinating book on German memories in Asia and you can explore more about the book and the author at AGSEP