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Desert apricots are very small drupes, or fruits, with an orange-yellow skin occasionally dotted with dark spots. They grow on bushes that can range in size from five to 13 feet and have spine-tipped twigs. The leaves of the bushes are one half to one inch in size and rounded. The Desert apricot bush has white flowers that look very similar to apple blossoms. The fruit has very narrow flesh with a large stone-to-fruit ratio. The taste is bitter; however, the longer the drupe remains on the bush the sweeter the fruit becomes.
Desert apricots reach their maturity in the summer.
Desert apricot, known botanically as Prunus fremontii, is a member of the rose family. For wild animals in the Anza-Borrego desert of California they are a treat; for the Cahuilla Indians it was a delicacy and a highly prized food source.
The Cahuilla Indians and native people of Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert prized the Desert apricot. The flesh was boiled down and mixed with honey to create a syrup. After the advent of sugar, the fruit was used to make jam.
Desert apricots can be found growing in Southern California, specifically San Diego and Riverside counties. There are higher instances of Desert apricots in Plum Canyon and some instances across the border into Baja California.