The Apricot: an Origin Story

This article was written by Phin Upham

For much of its contemporary life, the apricot was assumed to be a form of plum that originated in Armenia. Scientists now know that it is actually closer to the peach, or almond, and that it originated in China. In fact, the Chinese have been growing it for over 5,000 years.

The apricot was carried to Europe by Alexander the Great, whose conquest into Europe also introduced the ancient world to a number of foods that it had been missing out on.

America received the apricot in the early 18th century. It was brought to Western Virginia where the colonists attempted, unsuccessfully, to cultivate it. The extreme cold made growing the crop nearly impossible at mass scale. The Spaniards had also introduced the fruit to Mexico during its early conquests, so it’s likely that Virginia received it right around the time that California did.

The name of the apricot has a long and storied past. The Romans initially called it “praecocum,” which means “the precocious one,” because it grew during the summer months. The Greeks called it “berikken,” and the Arabs changed it to “birquq.” The Spanish were the next to name it, and they chose “albarocoque.” The Italians then changed it to “albercocco.” Finally, it began to take the form of “apricot” when it reached France where they called it an “abricot.”

The apricot was like a golden apple, which helped lend credibility to early mythmakers promising golden apples in heaven. It’s entirely possible that apricots, which grew wild in the Holy Land, were the so-called forbidden fruit of the Bible.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.

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