A small tree occasionally 20 ft or more high, or a large rounded shrub; branches sometimes terminated by a spine; young shoots slightly woolly at first. Leaves very variable in shape and size; oval, ovate, or obovate, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, wedge-shaped or rounded at the base, the margins very slightly round-toothed; covered with silky hairs when young, but becoming glabrous and lustrous above, and almost or quite glabrous beneath; stalks slender, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long. Flowers white, 1 in. across, produced in April in corymbs 11⁄2 to 2 in. across, carrying eight to twelve flowers; calyx white, woolly. Fruits rather orange-shaped, 3⁄4 in. long, 1 in. wide, yellowish brown, produced on a short, thick stalk.
Native of S. Europe, especially in the countries bordering the northern shores of the Mediterranean. It has no particular merit in the garden except that in age it makes a quaint and picturesque tree; from its ally, P. salicifolia, it differs in its nearly glabrous leaves.
There is an example at The Grange, Benenden, Kent, measuring 41 × 6 ft at 3 ft (1972).
var. cuneifolia [Guss.] Bean P. cuneifolia Guss. – Leaves smaller and narrower, with a slender, tapered base. Occasional in the wild. The plant described by Gussone came from Calabria.
var. oblongifolia (Spach) Bean P. oblongifolia Spach – This represents another extreme, with oblong or oval leaves, rounded at the base, the stalk 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Fruits yellowish, tinged with red on the sunny side, considerably larger than in P. amygdaliformis. It is common in Provence, and known there as the “Gros Perrussier”. Perhaps a hybrid between P. amygdaliformis and P. nivalis.
var. lobata (Decne.) Koehne P. lobata Koehne – Leaves on the strong shoots lobed.
P. persica Pers. P. sinaica Dum.-Cours.; P. amygdaliformis var. persica (Pers.) Bornm. – This is allied to P. amygdaliformis but has larger leaves and longer-stalked fruits, which are round and rather flattened. It was described early in the last century from a plant cultivated in France. It is not a native of Persia in spite of its name, nor of Sinai, and its native habitat, if indeed it ever had one, is not known. It is either a form of P. amygdaliformis or, as Schneider thought, a hybrid.