A peach, cut in half to show the stone, 1990s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Although known botanically as Prunus Persica (Persian plum), the peach originates from China. Peaches are mentioned in ancient Chinese writings, and were reputedly a favourite fuit of emperors. The Persians obtained the peach from contact with the Chinese, and in turn pased it on to the Romans. The fruit was introduced to the New World by the Spanish in the 16th century, and Native American tribes spread it acros North America. The ancient Chinese attributed the peach with the power to confer immortality. Today peaches are recognised as a valuable source of beta carotene, a provitamin which the body converts into vitamin A , which helps to boost the immune system, as well as vitamins B and C, and potasium.