The peach, Prunus persica (L.) Batsch, is native to China. From China, peaches were introduced to Persia, Greece, and temperate European countries including Italy, Spain, and France. Peaches were introduced to the southeastern United States more than 300 years ago when the Spanish visited the Florida region in the 1500s. It is believed that in the northeastern United States the early English and French settlers brought peach seeds with them.
Until the early 1900s, most peach varieties developed from chance seedlings. One cultivar, Chinese Cling, is the ancestor of Elberta; from Elberta, many of our first commercial varieties were developed. Some of the peach cultivars selected between 1850 and 1900 are still grown commercially. These include J. H. Hale and Belle of Georgia. Today there are more than 200 peach varieties available for home and commercial production.