Amygdalus persica. Peach.
Nat. Ord. — Rosaceae. Drupaceae, De Candolle. Sex. Syst. — Icosandria Monogynia.
Leaves and Kernels.
Description. — Amygdalus Persica, or Peach tree, is familar to almost every one. It is supposed to be originally a native of Persia. The leaves are lanceolate, serrate, with all the serratures acute ; flowers solitary, subsessile, appearing before the leaves, rose-color, with the odor of hydrocyanic acid ; drupe fleshy, tomentose, yellowish, tinged with purple ; calyx five-cleft, tubular, deciduous ; petals five ; nucleus somewhat compressed, ovate, acute, rugosely furrowed, and perforated on the surface.
History. — The peach tree is cultivated in all parts of the United States, where the character of its fruit attains to greater perfection than in any other country. Its hight is from eight to fifteen feet, its fruit is large, being from one to three inches in diameter, juicy, abounding in saccharine matter, and of a delicious flavor. The leaves are from three to five inches long, about one-third as wide, smooth, green, petioles short, with one or two glands. There are about two hundred varieties of this fruit, of which, probably, one-third are clingstones, the flesh adhering to the stone, and the remainder freestones or clearstones, the flesh free, or separating from the stone. The kernels of the fruit bear a strong resemblance to bitter almonds, in appearance, properties, and probably chemical nature ; and, together with the leaves, flowers, and bark, have also their peculiar odor and taste, and would very likely yield hydrocyanic acid. The leaves afford a volatile oil by distillation.
Properties and Uses. — Peach leaves are sedative, laxative, and reputed anthelmintic. In all inflammations of the stomach and abdomen, they exert a decidedly beneficial influence when used in cold infusion, a tablespoonful every hour or two. In hooping-cough, irritable bladder, sick stomach, ischuria, hematuria, and dysentery, they have been found useful. The kernels are similarly employed in the form of tincture, infusion, or syrup ; four ounces of the kernels to a quart of brandy is asserted to form a powerful tonic in intermittent fever, and to be remarkably efficacious in curing leucorrhea ; dose, a teaspoonful three or four times a day. Both leaves and kernels are said to contain hydrocyanic acid.
Of. Prep. — Infusum Persicae.