Traditional uses and benefits of Manchurian Apricot

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Manchurian Apricot Quick Facts
Name: Manchurian Apricot
Scientific Name: Prunus mandshurica
Origin Northeast China, Korea, and Manchuria
Colors Initially green turning to orange yellow with red flush
Shapes Golf-ball sized edible apricots about 2.5 cm in diameter, which mature in mid to late summer
Taste Strong, intense apricot flavor
Health benefits Support coughs, asthma, acute or chronic bronchitis, constipation, stimulates respiration and improves digestion
Prunus mandshurica, popularly known as Manchurian apricot and scout apricot, is a fast-growing flowering tree in the Prunus genus belonging to Rosaceae (roses) family. Manchurian apricot was first listed by Karl Maximovich in 1883 as Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica, but is now known as Prunus mandshurica. Accepted nomenclature for this plant is currently unresolved. The plant is resistant to cold and is native to mixed forests and mountain slopes in northeast China, Korea, and Manchuria. It is highly susceptible to plum pox potyvirus. The plant is better known for its often superb early spring ornamental display of pink flowers than for its fruit which, although edible fresh off the tree, lacks the quality necessary to compete with the apricots produced for human consumption in commercial orchards.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree. Specific epithet refers to the native territory of Manchurian apricot. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruits, can be used as a rootstock, is also grown as an ornamental, and can be used to form shelterbelts and hedges. Fruit provides food for wildlife during the fall but the tree seldom produces fruit in the west due to its early blooming habits. It can be used for one of the outer rows in multi-row windbreaks. Manchurian Apricot will also attract songbirds, rabbits, and other rodents if left uncontrolled.

Manchurian Apricot Facts

Name Manchurian Apricot
Scientific Name Prunus mandshurica
Native Northeast China, Korea, and Manchuria
Common Names Manchurian apricot and scout apricot
Name in Other Languages Azerbaijani: Mancuriya əriyi
Belarusian: Abrykos mańčžurski (Абрыкос маньчжурскі)
Chinese:  Dong bei xing (东北杏),  Liao xing,  Ku xing ren
English: Manchurian apricot
Finnish: Mantsurianaprikoosi
French: Abricotier de Mandchourie
German: Mandschurischer Aprikosenbaum
Italian: Albicocco della Manciuria
Japanese: Manshuu anzu,  Manshuu anzu,  Manshuu anzu
Korean: Kae sal gu, gae sal gu na mu (개살구나무)
Persian: زردآلوی منچوری
Russian:  Abrikos manchzhurskii (Абрикос маньчжурский)
Ukrainian: Abrikosa manchzhurs’ka  (Абрикоса манчжурська)
Plant Growth Habit Small round headed, fast-growing, deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees
Growing Climates Loamy soil of mixed forests, thickets, open well illuminated stony or rocky slopes, mountain regions and open sunny slopes
Soil Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. It prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. They are slightly drought tolerant but cannot handle any long term saturation of the soil
Plant Size 5 – 15 meters tall
Bark Inner bark is red and the outer bark is smooth and bark
Leaf Leaves are smooth, simple, broad, ovate or broad-elliptic, with an elongated tip (acuminate or caudate), some hairs, and serrated edges. Its petioles are 3 cm (1.2 in). In the autumn, the leaves turn golden orange
Flowering season March
Flower Beautiful single, white or pale pink showy flower that is 1 inch in diameter which bloom along the branches in early spring (early April- May) before the leaves emerge
Fruit Shape & Size Golf-ball sized edible apricots about 2.5 cm in diameter, which mature in mid to late summer
Fruit Color Initially green turning to orange yellow with red flush
Propagation By Seed, after cold stratification
Taste Strong, intense apricot flavor
Lifespan About 30 – 40, though some can reach 200 years
Season July to August

Plant Description

Manchurian Apricot is a small round headed fast-growing, deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees with a rounded spreading crown that normally grows about 5 – 15 meters tall. The plant is found growing in loamy soil of mixed forests, thickets, open well illuminated stony or rocky slopes, mountain regions and open sunny slopes. The plant thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. It prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. They are slightly drought tolerant but cannot handle any long term saturation of the soil. This tree can stand some drought, but will not handle standing water or saturated moist soils. The inner bark is red and the outer bark is smooth and barks.

Leaves

The leaves are smooth, simple, broad, ovate or broad-elliptic, with an elongated tip (acuminate or caudate), some hairs, and serrated edges. Its petioles are 3 cm (1.2 in). In the autumn, the leaves turn a nice yellow-orange color.

Flower

The plant has a beautiful single, white or pale pink showy flower that is 1 inch in diameter which bloom along the branches in early spring (early April- May) before the leaves emerge. The sepals and petals are oval, while the length of the stamens is similar to that of the stigma, which is cup-shaped.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by golf-ball sized edible apricots about 2.5 cm in diameter, which mature in mid to late summer. Fruits are initially green turning to orange yellow with red flush. Manchurian apricot fruits are smaller and not as tasty as the commercially sold varieties. The tree will produce fruit once it reaches maturity at between two and five years old. Other famous cultivars of Manchurian Apricot include Scout Apricot, Moongold, and many more.

Traditional uses and benefits of Manchurian Apricot

  • The seed is anti-asthmatic, antiseptic, antitussive and emollient.
  • It is used in the treatment of coughs, asthma, acute or chronic bronchitis and constipation.
  • In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
  • Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that the dried kernels are useful for treating asthma and constipation.

Culinary Uses

  • Fruit can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • Occasionally the fruit is sweet and is then acceptable for dessert.
  • Small, juicy, sub-acid to sweet, they can be eaten out of hand, cooked or made into preserves.
  • Seed can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • It usually has a bitter flavor, though there are plants with sweeter seeds.
  • The seed is a possible almond substitute.
  • Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter.
  • Fruits can be used to make flavorful jams and jellies.

Other Facts

  • The plant is used in windbreaks.
  • Green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
  • Dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
  • A very frost-resistant plant, it has the potential for use as a rootstock.
  • Wood is very hard, durable and attractive.
  • Seed oil from P. mandshurica has been studied as a source of biodiesel.
  • It has been used in cosmetics, soaps, and cold creams, and is also a source of the antimicrobial phloretin.
  • Oil obtained from the seed is suitable for use in light industry.

Precautions

  • In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer.
  • In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
  • In larger concentrations, however, cyanide can cause gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma and respiratory failure leading to death.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=837497#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=30037

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+mandshurica

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=286614&isprofile=0&

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/PRNMN

http://www.narc.gov.jo/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=30037

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_mandshurica

http://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Prunus+mandshurica

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