The specific epithet persica refers to its widespread cultivation in Persia (modern-day Iran), whence it was transplanted to Europe. It belongs to the genus Prunus which includes the cherry, apricot, almond and plum. The peach is classified with the almond in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated seed shell.
Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterised by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. China alone produced 58% of the world's total for peaches and nectarines in 2014. Spain accounted for 39% of global export volume in 2013.
Prunus persica grows to 4–10 m tall and has a trunk 15 cm in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate, 7–16 cm long, 2–3 cm broad, pinnately veined. The flowers are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, 2.5–3 cm diameter, pink, with five petals and delicately fragrant.
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