WTF Fun Fact 13202 – Almonds and Peaches Are Related

Almonds and peaches are two great things that go great together. In fact, we feel hungry just thinking about it (with some vanilla ice cream, perhaps). Anyway, it turns out that they’re not just tasty together, but almonds and peaches are related.

How are almonds and peaches related?

Almonds belong to the family Rosaceae, and the genus Prunus, which also includes other stone fruits such as plums, apricots, cherries, and nectarines. Peaches also belong to the family Rosaceae and the genus Prunus, but they are in a different subgenus and species.

The Rosaceae family is a large and diverse group of plants that includes many economically important fruit trees and shrubs. The family is characterized by having flowers with five petals, sepals, and numerous stamens.

So, almonds and peaches are related in the sense that they are both in the same family (Rosaceae). To top it off, they also belong to the same genus (Prunus).

Genetic relatives

While they are both healthy and delicious, the similarities between the two foods seem to end there. They certainly don’t look alike and one is classified as bitter while the other is sweet.

But according to CRAG News (cited below), which comes from the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics:

“The comparison of the genome of the ‘Texas’ almond tree variety…and the peach tree genome places the divergence of both species six million years ago. The results are consistent with the existing hypothesis that places the existence of a common ancestor of these Prunus species in the center of Asia and the subsequent separation of two populations that was brought about when the Himalayas massif was lifted. This geological phenomenon would have left both populations of Prunus exposed to totally different climates in which both species would evolve: the almond tree in the arid steppe of the center and west of Asia and the peach tree in the subtropical climates of the East, in the area that is now South China.”

In other words, these trees are now much more distinct from one another because they adapted to different climates. The genes that changed places on their chromosomes are known as “transposons.” They move around in order to help organisms adapt better to their environments (among other things).

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Source: “The sequence of the almond tree and peach tree genomes makes it possible to understand the differences of the fruits and seeds of these closely related species” — CRAG News

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