With summer in full swing we are taking a look at the lovely peach tree. Fruit is in abundance at this time of year and we all relish the taste of a fresh peach on a hot summer’s day.

The peach tree falls into the genus Prunus, which includes cherry and plum, in the family Rosaceae. Peaches and nectarines are of the same species, the difference being that peaches have a fuzzy skin and nectarines are smooth. Cultivated peaches are normally divided into clingstones or freestones, depending on whether the flesh stick to the stone or not. Typically white fleshed peaches (like the ‘Van Riebeeck’ cultivar) has a sweeter taste than the yellow fleshed peach (‘Kakamas’ cultivar) which has a more acidic taste, but this can vary greatly.

The peach tree is fast growing and loves a sunny position in the garden. The tree can attain a height of 5 to 7 m with a spread of 3 to 5 m and is deciduous, becoming dormant after losing its leaves during late autumn, early winter. Blooming peach trees herald in the spring and the blossoms can vary in colour from deep rose pink to almost white. The fruit matures from green to yellow or orange with a pink or red blush in most cultivars. The white to yellow flesh enclose a pointed, furrowed seed which is very hard. Unfortunately the peach tree is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases and care should be taken to protect your tree with the necessary sprays.

The peach tree is a delicious addition to the garden, bringing colour and edible treats, while promoting insect and birdlife in your surroundings.