Semen Armeniacae Amarum
Bitter Apricot Seed
The mature seed of Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu Maxim. (Fam. Rosaceae).
Mainly in Chinese provinces such as Liaoning, Hebei,and Shandong, and in Inner Mongolia. Mostly naturally grown; also cultivated.
Harvest & Processing
Collect fruits after maturation in summer; remove sarcocarp and husks; take out seeds; dry under the sun. Commonly used in Hong Kong are the seeds with the testa removed, called ' Beixing' (North Bitter Apricot Seed).
Flattened and cordate (heart-shaped); 1-1.9 cm long, 0.8-1.5 cm wide, 5-8 mm thick. Apex slightly pointed; base obtuse; two sides asymmetrical. Testa thin, brown to dull brown, with irregular wrinkles; one edge of the apex with a hilum, base with an elliptical chalaza; between hilum and chalaza is a raphe; numerous dark brown venous (vein-like) striae radiating from chalaza. When seeds are soaked in warm boiled water and testa removed, 2 white cotyledons are exposed; cotyledons highly oleaginous (oily), with relatively small radicle and plumule at apex. Odourless; taste: bitter.
Mainly contains amygdalin, chlorogenic acid, 3'-feruloylguinic acid, 3'-p-coumaroylquinic acid etc.
According to C.P., also used for medicinal purposes is the mature seed of P. sibirica L., of P. mandshurica (Maxim.) Koehne and of P. armeniaca L.
Remark: C.P. = Chinese Pharmacopoeia
The information and images in this Online Herbal Exhibition is form the book, "An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica in Hong Kong", edited by Professor Zhao Zhongzhen, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University. For the complete collection of Chinese Materia Medica compiled by Professor Zhao, please go to this website: http://www.bucmm.org.