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An apricot is a fruit or the tree that bears the fruit. Usually, an apricot tree is from the tree species Prunus armeniaca, but the species Prunus brigantina, Prunus mandshurica, Prunus mume, and Prunus sibirica are closely related, have similar fruit, and are also called apricots.

The origin of the apricot is disputed. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long, it is often thought to have originated there. Its introduction to Greece is attributed to Alexander the Great;[8] later, the Roman General Lucullus (10657 BC) also would have imported some trees the cherry, white heart cherry, and apricot from Armenia to Rome. Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption.

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. In the 17th century, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Today, apricot cultivation has spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

Although the apricot is native to a continental climate region with cold winters, it can grow in Mediterranean climates if enough cool winter weather allows a proper dormancy.[citation needed] A dry climate is good for fruit maturation. The tree is slightly more cold-hardy than the peach, tolerating winter temperatures as cold as -30 °C (-22 °F) or lower if healthy. A limiting factor in apricot culture is spring frosts: They tend to flower very early, meaning spring frost can kill the flowers. Furthermore, the trees are sensitive to temperature changes during the winter season.

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