A round-headed, deciduous tree 20 to 30 ft high, with sturdy, tortuous branches; branchlets glabrous. Leaves broadly ovate to roundish, 21⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, abruptly pointed, deep lustrous green, glabrous or with axil tufts beneath, evenly set with rounded teeth; stalk up to 1 in. long. Flowers white or pinkish, 1 in. across, produced singly on very short stalks from the previous year’s wood, often crowded on short spur-like twigs. Fruits round, 11⁄4 in. wide in the wild state, larger under cultivation, yellow tinged with red, the stone having a thickened furrowed margin.
Native of N. China, where it was found genuinely wild by Dr Bretschneider and raised at Kew from seeds sent by him. It is also found wild in the Tian-Shan. It is, of course, best known as a fruit tree on walls, but is quite hardy in the open. where, however, it does not bear fruit satisfactorily. The fruiting apricot is believed to have been cultivated by the Chinese many centuries anterior to the Christian era, gradually spreading westwards to Europe. It existed in English gardens early in the 16th century, probably long before. Flowering in March and early April, the apricot has something to recommend it, but it must be regarded as an inferior flowering tree, not in the same class as the almond and peach. The specific name refers to its supposed Armenian origin.
var. ansu Maxim. P. ansu (Maxim.) Komar.; Armeniaca ansu (Maxim.) Kostina – Leaves broad-ovate or orbicular-ovate, about 3 in. long, slightly less wide, broadly rounded to almost truncate at the base. Flowers usually twinned, very shortly stalked. Stone of fruit slightly roughened. A cultivated race of the more oceanic parts of E. Asia. In this country it is subject to brown rot and not very free-flowering.
In 1934, an Award of Merit was given to an apricot shown by Collingwood Ingram as P. mume grandiflora, the name under which the plant was received from an Italian nursery. However, he later pointed out that it really agreed better with P. armeniaca var. ansu. The flowers are of a bright rose, double (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 71, p. 36).