Botanical Bulletin: Peaches

Jul 21, 2021Fun Food Facts0 comments

by Alex Dadio, Doylestown Market Manager

Growing up, I had childhood fantasies of joining James and his band of insect comrades on their magical journey aboard their flying peach in Roald Dahl’s children’s story James and The Giant Peach.  I could just imagine sitting on top of the flying sun-kissed, fuzzy peach skin watching the stars float by with my friend the grasshopper or tucked into the warm, cozy peach pit sleeping in between the ladybug and the earthworm. A grand adventure! 

Childhood fantasies aside, peaches are pretty cool.  Great taste, perfect ombre of coloring and are a key component of one of my favorite desserts, peach cobbler. And cooler still because they are drupes.  A drupe, also known as a stone fruit, is derived from the ovary wall of the flower. It is essentially a fruit that has a flavorful, fleshy outer layer with an inside hard shell or pit (endocarp) that holds a seed. Drupes are classified as one-seeded and indehiscent. Indehiscent fruit do not split to release their seeds. 

drupe – /dro͞op/ – noun BOTANY

  1. a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed, e.g., a plum, peach, cherry, almond, or olive.

Many drupes attract animals due to their flavorful, fleshy outer layer. At times they may not eat the stone portion, but often they do. While being passed through the digestive tract, the hard endocarp of the pit is partially reduced by the acid in the animal’s digestive tract. This process does not harm the seed and actually aids in enhancing germination due to the thinner skin of the pit. This process is known as scarification. For some seeds, scarification is a necessary part of successful germination. 

Some drupes are referred to as freestone.  This means that the pit of the fruit peels away easily from the fruit. Clingstone is used to describe a drupe whose flesh requires work to pull the pit away from the flesh of the fruit.  Other examples of drupes would be apricots, olives, loquat, plums, cherries, mangoes, pecans, and amla fruits.

You can find fresh local peaches this week at our Wrightstown and Doylestown Markets!

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