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Origin and Dissemination of Prunus Crops: Peach, Cherry, Apricot, Plum, Almond

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Species of Prunus that include peach, cherry, apricot, plum, and almond, the most important nut worldwide, have long been considered as gifts of summer (Hummer and Janick, 2009). Their exquisite flavors and gorgeous appearance have made them much admired throughout the centuries and they have been lauded in poetry, song, and art (Palter 2002). In addition stone fruits represent important and valuable fruit crops throughout the temperate and subtropical world, for fresh and processed products. These tree crops originated in Europe, Central Asia, and China (Janick 2005) and were disseminated worldwide to become universally admired to become part of the cultures of the lands that adopted them. The history of their origins and migrations has become part of the romance of horticulture. This complex and wonderful saga led the great pomologist Miklos Faust (1927-2008) to initiate a series of individual articles published in Horticultural Reviews on the origin and dissemination of peach (1995), cherry (1997), apricot (1998), and plum (1999). Thomas M. Gradziel (2011) completed the series with the treatment of almond.

These five reviews are her reunited in one volume of Scripta Horticulturae, under the joint sponsorship of the International Society for Horticultural Science, the American Pomological Society, and the Fruit Breeding Working Group of the American Society for Horticultural Science.