Peaches originated in China where they were cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture. Considered the favorite fruit of emperors, peaches were first mentioned in Chinese writings dating back to the 10th century. From China, the “Persian apple,” the translated Latin name, was introduced to the Romans by the Persians (now Iranians) and later introduced to Europe by Alexander the Great.
Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. The skin of nectarines lacks the fuzz (fruit-skin trichomes) that peach-skin has; it is thought that a mutation in a single gene (MYB25) is responsible for the hair or no-hair difference between the two.
Spanish explorers are credited with bringing the peach to South America and then eventually to England and France where it became quite a popular, but rare, treat. During Queen Victoria’s reign, it is written that no meal was complete without a fresh peach presented in a fancy cotton napkin.