The deciduous apricot tree originated from the north east of China and was imported to South Africa during the 1700’s. Apricots were first planted in the Western Cape with its winter rainfall climate, but have subsequently spread to the rest of the country.
Apricot trees tend to prefer cooler climates, but will survive in subtropical areas, provided the winters are not too warm. A warm, sunny spot in your garden where the tree has some protection from wind or frost will be the perfect position for this pretty tree. The soil should be loamy and well-draining, but still moisture retentive.
Trees grow to a height of 4 – 6 m with a crown spread of approximately 4.5 m. The leaves of the Apricot tree are triangular to nearly round in shape and dark green in colour. The shape of the leaves may vary slightly between different cultivars. The blossoms are white to pinkish with five petals and are produced in early spring before the leaves appear. The fruit of the Prunus armenicana ‘Babeco’ ripens in early December and is yellow with a red tinge. The flesh of the fruit is firm and the taste can range from sweet to slightly tart. The fruit can be eaten fresh, and is traditionally dried or made into jam in South Africa.
Apricots are beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat, especially when harvested fresh off the tree. The trees can also be lovely centerpieces in a yard, with their abundant spring blossoms and attractive foliage.