The peach, one of the most popular fruits grown throughout the world’s north and south temperate zones, is native to China. Its scientific name, Prunus persica, suggests its origin as Persia (Iran); at one time it was called “Persian apple.” Chinese literature dates its cultivation in China to 1000 B.C. when a book of poems and songs was written describing pink peach blossoms and peach trees with ripe fruit.
Probably carried from China to Persia by caravan, the peach quickly spread from there to Europe. In the 16th century, it was established in Mexico, most likely by the Spanish. Soon after founding colonies on the east coast of the United States, the Spanish, French, and English also planted peaches in the New World.
Spanish missionaries introduced the peach to California in the 18th century, and in the early 1800s the Russians reportedly brought peach seeds or trees by ship to San Francisco and planted them near Fort Ross. During and following the Gold Rush, early settlers in California planted peaches, with variety selection and improvements occurring as the industry developed.