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As many of you guessed, our mystery seeds from last week were apricot seeds, Prunus armeniaca.

(*See bottom for photo credit)

Apricot trees produce their lovely pink flowers in spring. Once the flowers have been pollinated, they begin to develop fruit.

The apricot fruit are either eaten fresh or dried. For example, we recently made a fresh apricot pie with a coconut crumble topping that was very good. We also like to use dried apricots in scones.

As you probably know, the fruit has a hard pit at the center.

If you open those pits, the seeds inside resemble almonds.

Believe it or not, those seeds may be controversial. The apricot seeds have been shown to contain amygdalin, a chemical which may be converted into the toxin hydrogen cyanide. However, apricot seeds are sometimes used as food or in beverages. So, are they safe to eat or not? Factors such as variations in amount of amygdalin in the seeds, differences in how an individual metabolizes the amygdalin, and/or how many seeds are consumed at one sitting may influence whether or not a person becomes ill from eating them.

Have you ever eaten apricot seeds? What do you think?


*Apricot flower photograph from USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck.