Latin name: Prunus persica
Synonyms: Amygdalis persicus, Persica vulgaris
Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Medicinal use of Peach:Antihalitosis. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, parasiticide and mildly sedative. They are used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. They also help to relieve vomiting and morning sickness during pregnancy, though the dose must be carefully monitored because of their diuretic action. The dried and powdered leaves have sometimes been used to help heal sores and wounds. The leaves are harvested in June and July then dried for later use. The flowers are diuretic, sedative and vermifuge. They are used internally in the treatment of constipation and oedema. A gum from the stems is alterative, astringent, demulcent and sedative. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient, haemolytic, laxative and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation in the elderly, coughs, asthma and menstrual disorders. The bark is demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. The root bark is used in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice. The bark is harvested from young trees in the spring and is dried for later use. The seed contains "laetrile", a substance that has also been called vitamin B17. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison - it should thus be treated with caution. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Not known in a truly wild situation, it is possibly derived in cultivation from P. davidiana.
Edible parts of Peach:Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use. The fruit is often used in ice creams, pies, jams etc. When fully ripe, the fruit of the best forms are very juicy with a rich delicious flavour. Wild trees in the Himalayas yield about 36.5kg of fruit a year. The fruit of the wild form contains about 5.2% sugars, 2% protein, 1.6% ash. Vitamin C content is 2.3mg per 100g. The fruit is a good source of vitamin A. Fruits of the wild peach are richer in nutrients than the cultivated forms. The size of fruit varies widely between cultivars and the wild form, it can be up to 7cm in diameter and contains one seed. Flowers - raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a garnish. They can also be brewed into a tea. The distilled flowers yield a white liquid which can be used to impart a flavour resembling the seed. Seed - raw or cooked. Do not eat if it is too bitter, seed can contain high concentrations of hydrocyanic acid. See the notes above on toxicity. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. Although the report does not mention edibility it can be assumed that it is edible. The seed contains up to 45% oil. A gum is obtained from the stem. It can be used for chewing.
Other uses of the herb:A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. Yellow according to another report. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is used as a substitute for almond oil in skin creams. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off. A gum obtained from the stem is used as an adhesive.
Propagation of Peach:Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. The stored seed is best given 2 months warm followed by 3 months cold stratification. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. A very low percentage. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.
Cultivation of the herb:Not known in a truly wild situation, it is possibly derived in cultivation from P. davidiana.
Known hazards of Prunus persica:The seed can contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. 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.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.