Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 1319–1328 | Cite as

Wild almonds gone wild: revisiting Darwin’s statement on the origin of peaches

  • Mariana M. Yazbek
  • Mohammad S. Al-Zein
Research Article


There is a general consensus that cultivated almond was domesticated in western Asia while cultivated peach was domesticated in China; however, the lack of a comprehensive phylogeny of cultivated peaches and almonds and their wild relatives has until recently rendered the controversy over the origin of these plants, their interrelationships and their domestication difficult to decipher. This shortcoming has made Darwin’s hypothesis that peaches are almonds modified in a marvelous manner difficult to test. In this work, Darwin’s hypothesis is revisited based on the first comprehensive molecular and morphological phylogeny of almonds, peaches and their wild relatives. The analysis reveals that cultivated peaches and cultivated almonds are closely related but not sister species. It also reveals that Darwin’s hypothesis was not entirely wrong, particularly considering the species concept he was employing.


Almond Amygdalus Evolution Peach Phylogeny 



The authors would like to acknowledge Ali Donmez, Kevin Nixon, Jerrold Davis, Dennis Stevenson, Lytton Musselman, Khouzama Knio and two anonymous reviewers for their help at different stages of preparing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Genetic Resources Section, Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management ProgramInternational Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)BeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Biology Department, Faculty of Arts and SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  3. 3.Nature Conservation Center (NCC)American University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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