The apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca
) is a small well-known tree that is grown worldwide for cultivation of its fleshy, stone fruits--the apricot. P. armeniaca
develops pink to white colored blossoms in the spring, prior to leaves appearing. The fruits ripen towards the end of July to mid-August.
Although apricots are safely eaten by humans, the leaves, shoots, bark, twigs and pits of the fruit contain cyanogenic glycosides that can cause poisoning in horses. Of these chemicals, amygdalin is the most abundant. The danger of cyanogenic glycosides is that they are able to convert to HCN (cyanide) when damaged or stressed (due to chewing, crushing, freezing, wilting).
Young, rapidly growing leaf tissue and seed tend to contain increased amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. Toxicity levels also increase during periods of frost, drought, application of 2,4-D herbicides, nitrate fertilization, low phosphorous soil levels, and cool moist growing conditions.