Pits Prove It: We've Been Eating Peaches for Millennia
They were domesticated some 7.5K years ago in China: study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 8, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
This Thursday, April 14, 2011 photo shows dried peach pits on the ground beneath trees at Cherry Hill Orchards in Lancaster, Pa.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – When you savor a juicy peach, you're joining a tradition that goes back some 7,500 years. That long ago, Chinese farmers started domesticating the sweet fruit, researchers find. Peaches eaten all over the planet have roots—no pun intended—near Shanghai, in the lower Yangtze River Valley, according to a press release. Researchers reached their conclusions by studying peach pits at six sites, accounting for 5,000 years of peaches.

The researchers noted that pits from the Yangtze valley were getting bigger as time passed, pointing to domestication. But it took some 3,000 years for these peaches to start looking like the ones we now eat. Peaches enjoyed by the Liangzhu culture between 4,300 and 5,300 years ago looked relatively similar to ours, the researchers say; this same culture was key to the development of rice and also likely grew soybeans, EarthTimes reports. "Generation after generation kept selecting the peaches they enjoyed. The product went from thinly fleshed, very small fruit to what we have today," an expert says. (Check out a tree that grows 40 different types of fruit.)