PEACH (Heb. פַּרְסֵק or אֲפַרְסֵק, mishnaic), the tree and the fruit of the Persica vulgaris (Prunus persica). This tree was first grown in Ereẓ Israel during the Greco-Roman era, hence its name afarsek, i.e., "Persian apple" in the Mishnah (Gr. μῆλον περσικόν). Characteristic of the peach are the red fibers extending from a deeply grooved kernel. The Mishnah accordingly lays it down that peaches become liable for tithing "after they begin to show red veins" (Ma'as, 1:2). Under suitable conditions, peaches can grow to a substantial size, and the aggadah states that it happened that a single peach became large enough to provide more than a meal for a man and his ass (TJ, Pe'ah 7:4, 20a). The Mishnah states that the peach used to be grafted onto the almond (as it is today) and forbids the practice since it constitutes kilayim ("mixed species "; Kil. 1:4). On the other hand, the statement (TJ, Kil. 27a according to the reading of the Mussafia in his additions to the Arukh) that the grafting of a walnut tree on a peach produces the fruit karyah-persikah ("Persian walnuts"), a sort of crossbreed between the walnut and the peach, belongs to agricultural folklore. The name nucipersica ("Persian nut") occurs on an inscription discovered in a Roman villa and this name entered into the botanical literature of the Middle Ages for a species of peach with a skin as smooth as that of the outer husk of the walnut. It is certain that these two unrelated species cannot be grafted and no hybrid can be produced from them. After the ruin of Jewish agriculture in Ereẓ Israel at the end of the talmudic era, peach plantations all but disappeared. During recent years, however, they have been planted in large numbers and are found in abundance. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 159–63; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 101–3. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 30. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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