Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Mackenzie from Livonia, MI. Mackenzie Wonders, “Why are peaches fuzzy? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Mackenzie !
When you get home after a productive day at school, what's the first thing you do? Some kids might grab their bikes and take a spin around the neighborhood to have some fun. Other kids might immediately start on their homework, so that they have the rest of their evening free to read or play with friends.
Many kids, however, have one destination in mind as soon as they burst through the front door: the kitchen. Why the kitchen? Because that's where the refrigerator and cupboards full of after-school snacks are!
If you're an after-school snacker, it's important that you make healthy choices when choosing a treat. Instead of soda and chips, reach for water and a fresh piece of fruit instead. There's nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a delicious apple, a refreshing orange, or a juicy peach.
Do you like fresh peaches? Fans of the peach, known scientifically as the Prunus persica, praise its juicy flesh that's full of sweet flavor. If you bite into a fresh peach, you'll also experience the peculiar sensation of its unique, fuzzy, red-orange skin. Why are peaches naturally fuzzy? Did they forget to shave?
Scientists who have studied peaches don't know for sure why they have fuzzy skin, but they have developed a few theories over the years. For example, some scientists believe the fuzz might help protect the delicate skin of the peach from insects.
Compared to the skin of other fruits, such as apples, oranges, and bananas, peaches have very thin, delicate skin. This makes peaches very susceptible to bruising and rotting. This presents a challenge for peach farmers to sell their crops, since they're usually only good for a couple of weeks after being picked.
Although peach farmers will tell you there are plenty of insects willing to brave the peach's prickly fuzz to feast upon its sugary insides, some scientists believe the fuzz deters some insects that might otherwise target peaches. Other scientists believe the fuzz protects peaches from water.
Rainfall and even heavy dew could easily saturate thin peach skin, weakening it and allowing bacteria to cause the fruit to rot. Peach fuzz helps to collect water droplets, keeping them away from the skin.
Experts believe the peach originally came from China. Today, it remains a very popular fruit in the United States and around the world. In the U.S., the state most commonly associated with the peach is Georgia. Georgia, however, is only third in the country in peach production. California grows the most peaches, followed by South Carolina.
If you look for fresh peaches at your local grocery store, you might find a very similar fruit right next to it. It shares similar coloring, size, and taste, but it doesn't have any fuzz. What did you find? A nectarine!
Nectarines belong to the same species as peaches. Whereas peaches contain a dominant gene that produces their signature fuzz, nectarines have a recessive gene that causes smooth, fuzz-free skin. Without protective fuzz, nectarines tend to bruise and rot more easily than their fuzzy counterparts.