By: Teo Spengler
The Armenian plum tree is a species of the genus Prunus. But the fruit called Armenian plum is actually the most commonly cultivated apricot species. The Armenian plum (commonly called “apricot”) is the national fruit of Armenia and has been cultivated there for centuries. Read on for more Armenian plum facts, including the “apricot vs. Armenian plum” issue.
What is an Armenian Plum?
If you read up on Armenian plum facts, you learn something confusing: that the fruit actually goes by the common name of “apricot.” This species is also known as ansu apricot, Siberian apricot and Tibetan apricot.
The different common names attest to the ambiguity of the origins of this fruit. Since the apricot was extensively cultivated in the prehistoric world, its native habitat is uncertain. In modern times, most trees growing in the wild have escaped from cultivation. You can only find pure stands of the trees in Tibet.
Is an Armenian Plum an Apricot?
So, is an Armenian plum an apricot? In fact, although the fruit tree is in the subgenus Prunophors within the genus Prunus together with the plum tree, we know the fruits as apricots.
Since plums and apricots fall within the same genus and subgenus, they can be cross-bred. This has been done in recent times. Many say that the hybrids produced –the aprium, plumcot and the pluot – are finer fruits than either parent.
Armenian Plum Facts
Armenian plums, better known as apricots, grow on small trees that are usually kept under 12 feet (3.5 m.) tall when cultivated. Their branches extend into wide canopies.
Apricot flowers look a lot like the blossoms of stone fruit like peach, plum and cherry. The flowers are white and grow in clusters. Armenian plum trees are self-fruitful and do not require a pollinizer. They are pollinated largely by honey bees.
Apricot trees don’t bear substantial amounts of fruit until three to five years after planting. The fruit of the Armenian plum trees are drupes, about 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.4 cm.) wide. They are yellow with a red blush and have a smooth pit. Flesh is mostly orange.
According to Armenian plum facts, the fruits take between 3 to 6 months to develop, but the main harvest takes place between May 1 and July 15 in places like California.
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Armenian oboe. A Armenian single or double reed wind instrument made of apricot wood with a sound that has a humanlike voice quality. It has a cylindrical wooden pipe, a broad reed and nine holes (8 finger-holes and one thumb-hole). It has a warm, soft, slightly nasal timbre and full tone. This instrument is equally used for slow lyrical tunes (accompanying folk songs) and faster dance-tunes and it is also played solo. The tuning is basically untempered diatonic, though chromatic notes can be obtained by partially opening or closing the finger holes. The double reed is a slit-tube-like reed. The origin of the duduk goes back to times before Christ.
No other musical instrument is able to convey the emotions of the Armenian people so honestly and eloquently as the duduk, Born in the early eons of Armenian history, it is purely Armenian. Because of its evocative and colorful timbre and warm sound, the duduk has become part of everyday life in Armenia. Today, no festive occasion, wedding reception or family feast is complete without a dudukist.
The duduk is a form of oboe hand-made almost always of apricot wood, with a 1,500-year history behind it. The duduk is strictly Armenian. Traveling Armenians have taken it to Persia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, the Middle East and as far as the Balkans, where derivatives are played. The instrument itself is simply a hollow pipe with eight finger holes on the upper side and one thumb hole on the bottom. It has a warm, soft, slightly nasal timbre, but it is capable of a wide-range of melodies and drone notes sustained for long periods of time. It is invariably played with the accompaniment of a second 'dum duduk,' which gives the music an energy and tonic atmosphere, changing the scale harmoniously with the principal duduk.
The duduk is built in three sizes, ranging from 11 to 16 inches. It requires a specific type of double reed, categorized as a split or slit-tube reed. As a musical instrument, it has not changed through the centuries, but the manner of playing it has been perfected and its sound has been improved. Its range is only one octave however, it requires considerable skill to play, - its dynamics controlled by constantly adjusting the lips and fingers. The tuning is basically untempered and diatonic, though chromatic notes may be obtained by partially covering the finger holes.
The duduk repertoire consists of folk ballads as well as upbeat dance music. Composers have even written orchestral pieces for the instrument.
History The Duduk (pronounced “doo-dook”) is one of the oldest double reed instruments in the world. Indeed, it’s origins can be traced back to at least before the time of Christ. Of all the traditional instruments played in Armenia today, only the duduk is said to have truly Armenian origins. This seems to be supported by the fact that, unlike the duduk, all of these other instruments can trace their lineage’s back to the Arabic world and to the countries of the Silk Road.
Throughout the centuries, the duduk has traveled to many neighboring countries and has undergone a few subtle changes in each of them, such as the specific tuning and the number of holes, etc. Now variants of duduk can be found in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Persia, and even as far away as the Balkans. Besides being called variations of the Armenian word “duduk”, such as “duduki” (in Georgia), it is also referred to as “mey” (in Turkey), and “balaban” (in Azerbaijan and in parts of Central Asia).
The basic form has changed little in it’s long history. Originally, like many early flutes, the instrument was made from bone. Then it advanced to a single, long piece of reed/cane with the mouthpiece fashioned on one end and holes drilled out along it’s length for the notes. However, this had the obvious disadvantages of a lack of durability, namely when any part of it would crack you had to make an entirely new instrument, and perhaps equally frustrating, it could not be tuned. So, to address both of these problems, it was eventually modified into two pieces: a large double reed made of reed/cane and a body made of wood. This is the form that is still in use today.
While other countries may use the wood from other fruit and/or nut trees when making their instruments (often plum and walnut in Georgia, and Azerbaijan, for example. ), in Armenia, the best wood for making duduks has been found to be from the apricot tree. It has come to be preferred over the years for it’s unique ability to resonate a sound that is unique to the Armenian duduk. All of the other variations of the instrument found in other countries have a very reed-like, strongly nasal sound, whereas the Armenian duduk has been specifically developed to produce a warm, soft tone which is closer to a voice than to a reed. It should be noted that in order to further accentuate these qualities, a particular technique of reed making has evolved, as well.
While recent appearance’s of the duduk in various movie and TV soundtracks (“The Last Temptation of Christ”, “The Crow”, “Zena, Warrior Princess”, etc. ) has accentuated it’s evocative and soulful side (and understandably so. ), it may surprise some to find that it is also quite capable of a wide range of melodies, including rhythmic dance tunes. It may very well be because of this wide range of expression, combined with the depth and power of it’s sound, that the duduk has truly become a part of everyday life in Armenia. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that no wedding, festive occasion, or family gathering would be complete without a duduk player. more detailed instructions are available at our web site ©® www.Duduk.com
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Armenian Dukuk is Hot Instrument in World Music
That's the soulful sound of the duduk. The duduk is a kind of folk oboe from Armenia. It's played here by the Armenian master of the duduk, Djivan Gasparyan. In Gasparyan's homeland, the duduk embodies Armenian culture and pervades folk music. But there's no need to leave the United States to hear it. There's probably one playing at a theater near you. The World's Adeline Sire explains.
The duduk has become the stuff of Hollywood soundtracks. It's about 2000 years old, so it's probably the oldest and the hardest working instrument in show business. Many blockbusters have featured it, including The Crow, Dead Man Walking, The Siege, and even Hulk. The trend started with the 1988 film "The last temptation of Christ." That soundtrack was composed by British rock musician Peter Gabriel.
Venezuelan-born musician Pedro Eustache was haunted by the sound of this mysterious instrument.
Pedro: "I said what the heck is that? It sounded like a cello meets a voice, meets a clarinet, meets a lot of pain, incredibly expressive and it just rocked my world."
Eustache took up the duduk in 1994 after he was introduced to it by Armen Anassian, of Los Angeles, who was then Yanni's music director. He then studied with master Djivan Gasparyan. He soon learned the secrets of this rudimentary instrument made of Armenian apricot wood. It's topped with a large reed.
Eustache is a freelancer and in Hollywood, he's very much in demand by film composers. He plays dozens of woodwinds from around the world. But he treasures the duduk. And likes to improvise on it.
Pedro: Duduk is such a difficult instrument, pfffff. it kicks my butt all the time, excuse my French--which is not French-- but duduk can express something very specific, peculiar, particular, that nothing else can express. I would say evocative, I would say extreme expression from sweetness to pain and they say in Armenia, the sound of this instrument is a prayer."
That quasi-holy sound has made the duduk a welcomed guest in religious film epics. In 2004, 16 years after "the last temptation of Christ " the duduk appeared in Mel Gibson's film "the Passion of the Christ." And this time, Eustache was playing.
More than an instrument, the duduk is a dramatic device. John Debney composed the score for "the Passion of the Christ." He says he chose the duduk because it sounds just like a human voice. But he says that usually when film composers use it, they aim to refer to the distant past and distant lands.
Debney: "It does evoke something ancient. I think that most westerners are drawn to this instrument because it is a plaintive instrument that is very exotic and very beautiful. And I think that's very appealing."
Filed under "ancient times" evoked by the duduk, you find the films "Gladiator" and "Alexander." And as for exotic, in 2005 alone, the duduk evoked a fictitious land in "Chronicles of Narnia," and the middle east in "Syriana" and "Munich."
Pedro Eustache is the featured duduk player in Munich's soundtrack. And he's played many more gigs, even in settings beyond Hollywood. He says the duduk is quite a chameleon.
Eustache: "I've played this in churches, in Hispanic churches, I have played this in huge arenas all over the world, I have played this from Dubai to India to Japan to Venezuela, I've used this in Iranian pop, you know, it's pretty amazing."
Eustache also performs with classical Indian music master Ravi Shankar. In 2002, Eustache performed with Shankar and his band in London. It was a memorial concert for the Beatles' George Harrison. Shankar had written a duduk solo for Eustache. And that solo didn't fall on deaf ears. Paul McCartney was so impressed by the sound of the instrument that he inquired about the musician who'd played it.
McCartney: "He said that he called Ravi Shankar. and said "Ravi, I want to have that Indian musician that plays this mournful Indian instrument. voovoovoo. and Ravi said "No no no, he's not Indian, he's from Venezuela and the instrument is from Armenia.. hahaha. "
McCartney called Eustache and invited him to play a duet on his latest album "Chaos and creation in the garden." The song is "Jenny Wren." Pedro Eustache is convinced that this folk horn from Armenia has a powerful and limitless reach. He says it will definitely outlive its current fad. It's just a hunch but it's based on experience.
Eustache: "I'm from Venezuela, South America. My parents came from Haiti and I am a whole multicultural weird thing. My point being, there are things that go beyond geography and chronology an the sound of the duduk is one of them. I have played this instrument anywhere and everywhere and it affects people, it immediately capture's people's sensibilities, it connects deeply with them, I think there is something so incredibly universal about the sound, the strength, the reality of this instrument." Its appeal is so universal that last November, UNESCO issued a proclamation naming duduk music a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity."
As for Eustache, he'll next play on a couple of songs Stevie Wonder is writing for a documentary. Eustache says the R'N'B star loves the instrument so much he's getting one for himself. The duduk's next appearance will be brought to the silver screen by composer Hans Zimmer. Zimmer asked master Djivan Gasparyan to the play for the soundtrack of "The Da Vinci Code," out this May.
Region – Western Asia
Geography – Mountainous
Language – Armenian, Yezidi, Russian
Religion – 97% Armenian Apostolic 2% Islam, Judaism, Protestant, Roman Catholic
Natural Resources – Gold, copper, zinc, aluminium, molybdenum, bauxite
Agriculture – fruit (especially grapes), vegetables livestock
Industry – diamond-processing, metal-cutting machine tools, forging-pressing machines, electric motors, tires, knitted wear, hosiery, shoes, silk fabric, chemicals, trucks, instruments, microelectronics, jewelry manufacturing, software development, food processing, brandy
Neighbouring Countries – Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey
Population – 3,060,631 (2014)
Population Growth Rate – 0.1%
Average Life Expectancy – 72.1
Capital City – Yerevan (population 1,060,138)
Highest Mountain – Aragats (4,095 m)
Longest River – Aras (1,072 km)
Climate – cold, snowy winters -9°C to 10°C and warm, dry summers 14°C to 34°C
Yearly Rainfall – 32 cm approx
Plant Life – 3500+ species of plants including oak, beech, pine, marshland, alpine species, wild grain, desert plants, apricot, apple, pear, cherry, mazzard, plum, pomegranate, grape
Animal Life – wild Armenian goat, deer, wild ram, leopard, Caucasian bear, lynx, wildcat, Reed wildcat, wild Boar, porcupine, squirrel, jackal, mole, prairie dog, marten, royal stag, nutria
APRICOT - PRUNUS ARMENIACA
Common Name: Apricot, Armenian plum
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 20 to 40 ft
Width: 20 to 40 ft
This tree is valued for its ornamental qualities as well as its fruit production. Apricot's showy white flowers bloom in February or March. Most varieties are self-pollinating, and flowers give way to a golden orange, edible, fleshy drupe that can be harvested in summer. The deep green leaves are ovate in shape and have serrated margins.
Where it Grows:
Apricot trees grow best in well-drained, moist soils in full sun to partial shade, though they will produce best in full sun.
How it's Used:
Apricot trees are used primarily for food production. They begin to produce fruit in their second year, but a good harvest occurs within 3 to 5 years. The fruits can be used in jellies and preserves. The fruit can also be consumed freshly picked or dried and consumed that way. The showy flowers that are produced also give it ornamental value in the early spring.
Attracts insect pollinators and can be a food source for small mammals and birds.
Where it is Native To:
Apricot trees are native to eastern Europe and western Asia.
Known Varieties and Their Traits:
'Wilson Delicious': 'Wilson Delicious' is a 15-20' tree. This cultivar features white flowers in very early spring followed by freestone apricots which ripen in early July in USDA Zone 5.
'Zaiglo' STARK GOLDEN GLO: This is a miniature typically grows only 4-6’ tall. Miniature trees such as this bear full-size fruit, but have the advantages of fitting into smaller sites, including containers, being more manageable (easier to prune, spray and harvest), and bearing fruit at an earlier age. This cultivar features mildly sweet golden apricots that ripen in mid-July.
'Homedale' STARK SWEETHEART: This is an exclusive introduction from Stark Bro's of Louisiana, Missouri. It has an added bonus in that each freestone pit may be broken open to harvest an almond-like kernel which can be used as an almond substitute in cooking or eaten whole as a snack. This cultivar features white flowers in very early spring followed by freestone apricots which ripen in mid-July in USDA Zone 5.
The early bloom in the late winter or early spring makes it susceptible to frost damage, so planting in protected areas is important. Potential disease problems include brown rot, root rot, and bacterial leaf spot. Potential insect pests include plum curculio, borers, and aphids.
The leaves, stems, and seed pits of apricot contain cyanide so it is advised to avoid consumption of these and is not a pet-friendly tree.
Market Watch: Small green plums are Armenian treat
Plums usually don’t start until the end of May, but a few growers, mostly of Armenian origin, have started bringing green plums, which are unripe fruits the size of cherries. These are hard and sour, and would not appeal to most Americans, but they’re much appreciated in the Mideast as the first fruits of spring and are eaten fresh, sometimes with a pinch of salt.
Alan Asdoorian of Island Farms, from Kingsburg, says that his customers want only a certain variety with a distinctive taste and that if he runs out and tries to bring similar-looking immature fruits of standard varieties, like Friar or Simka, they wave their fingers and say “voch” — “no” in Armenian.
What type is this green plum? It appears to be a myrobalan, the small-fruited “cherry plum,” a species native to western Asia and primarily used in California as a rootstock. When the fruits ripen in a month or two, they turn yellow but don’t get much larger than a quarter Asdoorian’s customers say that at that point the traditional use is to make a sheet or fruit roll of the dried pulp.
Meanwhile, the San Joaquin Valley peach harvest is starting up, about 10 days later than normal because of the generally cool weather this spring, growers say. This weekend, at the Burbank and Studio City farmers markets, Asdoorian will sell his patented Island King yellow peaches, a very early, small-fruited mutation of Queencrest that he and his father discovered about 12 years ago at their farm in Kingsburg.
In the high desert, many stone fruit farmers lost most of their crop to a freeze on April 9, when the fruits were just starting to develop. The temperature dipped to 25 degrees at Tenerelli Orchards in Littlerock, destroying 90% of the crop, says John Tenerelli. He also lost virtually all of his apricots and cherries, and half of his apples, and many neighbors were similarly affected. Tenerelli usually sells at 20 to 25 markets in high season but will only have enough for the Santa Monica market this year.
“It’s the worst freeze since my father started the farm in 1973,” he says.
As if to compensate for this loss, Tenerelli’s daughter, Natalie, who turns 20 today, has hung on so far as a contestant in the reality television show “Survivor: Redemption Island,” which was shot in a beachside jungle in Nicaragua last year. If she makes it to the final three, she will be vying in the show’s finale on May 15 for the grand prize of $1 million.
“That’s a lot of peaches,” he says.
Mignonne wild strawberries
At their best, wild strawberries are dreamily aromatic and delicious, a luxury item ideally suited to farmers market and home gardens, because they are so fragile. Sometimes, however, they’re ridiculously small, which makes them a chore to eat, especially when the inedible calyx adheres and must be pulled off often, too, they’re not particularly sweet, with a pronounced bitterness from the seeds. The truth is, fruit quality varies markedly, depending on the variety, horticultural practices, and the age and health of the plants.
It’s therefore a delight to encounter the Mignonne wild strawberries that Jerry Rutiz of Arroyo Grande started selling last Wednesday, for $5 a clamshell, at the Santa Monica market. They’re quite sweet, non-bitter and relatively large, many the size of a thimble. Of course, they’re cultivated, not really wild — “wild type” would be a better description for this crop. Rutiz has 1,200 plants, grown from seed — wild strawberries are one of the very few fruits, along with papayas and tamarillos, that are propagated chiefly by seed in Western nations — and hopes to offer the fruit through the summer. The first picking he sold destemmed fruits, which are easier to eat but atrociously perishable chefs, who buy much of the harvest, implored him to leave the stems on so the berries would keep better.
New safety nets at Santa Monica
Next Wednesday, barring unforeseen glitches, a new system of steel-mesh nets intended to protect the Santa Monica farmers market from traffic will be fully deployed for the first time. These look like red tennis nets and are distantly related to the devices that help bring landing jets to a stop on aircraft carriers.
Since July 2003, when a runaway car killed 10 people and injured 63, the market has stationed a police cruiser at each entrance on the Arizona Street markets, four sides on Wednesdays and two on Saturdays, at a yearly cost of about $172,000. The new setup cost about $200,000 but will save $122,000 in salaries annually, says manager Laura Avery.
The net system was announced in December, but manufacturing and construction delays pushed back the installation until now, adds Avery. The setup at each end of the market, with nets, anchors, barricades and signs, weighs 1,500 pounds and requires its own cart, similar to an airline luggage cart, and an electric puller. City crew members will guide the carts from nearby storage facilities and set up the nets starting at 7 a.m. Market staff and safety personnel have been trained to lower the nets quickly to let emergency vehicles pass, if needed.
Originally Avery feared that the market might lose 10 feet of selling space to accommodate the nets, but engineers managed to configure the design so that the market’s footprint is unchanged, she says.
New market in Orange, new manager in Encino
In other news, a promising new market that seeks to emulate the Santa Monica farmers market opens Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon in Old Towne Orange, at Cypress Street and Palm Avenue.
On Sunday, Carole Gallegos, who until recently managed the Studio City farmers market and just opened a new market in Sherman Oaks, will take over the direction of the Encino venue, which was long one of the largest and best in the San Fernando Valley.
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