Prunus mandshurica
Common Name: Manchurian apricot 
Type: Tree
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: China, Korea
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 3. Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers moisture retentive soils with good drainage. Best sited in a sheltered location (e.g., sloping ground on the south side of the home) where chemical spraying (if desired) will pose minimal problems with adjacent areas. Avoid planting in low-lying areas which can act as a frost pocket (late spring frosts can damage flowers with significant impact on the subsequent fruit crop). Self-pollinating, but two or more plants generally result in a much better fruit yield.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus mandshurica, commonly known as Manchurian apricot, is a small upright tree with a rounded spreading crown than typically matures to 15-20’ (less frequently to 30’) tall. It is native to mixed forests and mountain slopes in Manchuria (northeast China/southeast Russia) and Korea. It is better known for its often superb early spring ornamental display of pink flowers than for its fruit which, although edible fresh off the tree, lacks the quality necessary to compete with the apricots produced for human consumption in commercial orchards (mostly Prunus armeniaca cultivated varieties). Manchurian apricot fruits are smaller, yellowish in color and not as tasty as the commercially sold varieties. Excellent winter hardiness (USDA Zone 3), however, has encouraged hybridizers to use Manchurian apricot in breeding new edible varieties with better frost resistance. Manchurian apricot was first listed by Karl Maximovich in 1883 as Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica, but is now known as Prunus mandshurica. Accepted nomenclature for this plant is currently unresolved.

Apricots are stone fruits which have smooth-to-pubescent golden orange skin, fleshy fruit and a center pit or stone. Notable features of Manchurian apricot include: (a) glossy, broad ovate to elliptic, green leaves (to 4” long) with serrated margins, (b) showy, shell pink, single flowers (to 1” diameter) which bloom along the branches in early spring (April-early May), (c) golf-ball sized edible yellow apricots (to 1 1/2" diameter) which mature in mid to late summer (July), (d) orange-yellow fall color, and (e) attractive reddish-brown bark.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet refers to the native territory of Manchurian apricot.

Problems

Apricots in general can be difficult to grow in Missouri, both ornamentally and for fruit harvest, primarily because of (1) susceptibility of early blooming flowers (before peaches) to frost injury and (2) diseases/insects. Potential disease problems include brown rot, root rot and bacterial leaf spot. Potential insect pests include plum curculio, borers, aphids and mites. In addition, Manchurian apricot is reportedly very susceptible to plum pox potyvirus (sharka). Although good cultural and sanitation practices are always essential, chemical spraying is usually necessary in order to adequately control pests in the event harvesting fruit is a goal.

Garden Uses

Manchurian apricot is typically planted in the landscape for ornamental purposes rather than for fruit harvest. It is now being planted in a number of cold winter areas because of its excellent winter hardiness to USDA Zone 3. Fruits can be used to make flavorful jams and jellies. Flowers are ornamentally attractive in spring, but fruits that drop to the ground in fall can be messy.