Other Common Names:
The other common name for the almond is sweet almond.
The origin of almonds is variously given as West or Central Asia; yet due to many millennia of cultivation, their original distribution cannot be reconstructed. In temperate Europe, almond trees do not thrive, although their cultivation has been tried in the Middle Ages due to the Capitulare de villis (see lovage).Today, the most important producers for the European market are Spain and Italy. Californian almonds are of increasing importance. The English word almond is derived from the French amande, which in turn is a derivative of the old Latin word for almond, amygdalus, literally meaning "tonsil plum." Ancient Romans also referred to almonds as "Greek nuts," since they were first cultivated in Greece.
Almonds date back in print to the Bible. A recipe from the Forme of Cury, dating back to 1390, uses blanched, ground almonds in a gravy for oysters. The botanic genus name, Prunus, is derived from the Latin name of the closely related plum, prunum, which in turn goes back to Greek proumnon .The species name, dulcis "sweet" is motivated by the kernel's taste; bitter almonds are considered a variety (var. amara), where Latin amarus means "bitter".Latin dulcis is the. progenitor of most terms for "sweet" in Romance languages.
Prunus dulcis is a small, shrubby, deciduous tree. Flowering occurs before or with leaves emerging. Flowers are generally obligately cross-pollinated (most varieties are self-incompatible). Pollination occurs by insects. Plants become mature at 3-4 years old. Leaves alternate, simple, petiolate.
Leaf blade/lamina 0.8-5 in. (2-12.7 cm) long, about 3-4 times longer than wide, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, pinnately veined, margins minutely serrate to crenate-serrate, apex abruptly short-apiculate, glabrous. Petioles with glands. Flowers 1-3, sub sessile; borne on spurs or short lateral branches. There are about 5 calyx with villous margins. The flowers are white to pink colour and there are many stamens with a single pistil and style. The fruit is a drupe oblong, 1-2.4 in. long, densely puberulent to pubescent, the hull splits at maturity to expose the stone/nut. The seed is flattened, long-ovoid, seed coat brown.
Almond is native to the eastern Mediterranean, especially Jordan, Iran and the Middle East. Introduced to southern Europe and widely cultivated in all countries bordering in the Mediterranean, particularly Spain and Italy, as well as California.
Almond prefers sun and well-drained soil. Almond does well in the hot, dry interior valleys of California, where the nuts mature satisfactorily. Almonds need ample rainfall or irrigation water for maximum production of well-filled almond nuts.
In India, trees are raised from seedlings, the seeds usually having a chilling requirement. Seeds are sown in nurseries, the seedlings transplanted after about one year. For special types, as in the U.S., scions are budded or grafted on to bitter or sweet almond, apricot, myrobalan, peach or plum seedlings. Trees are planted 6-8 m apart and irrigated, in spite of their drought tolerance. Application of nitrogenous and/or organic fertilizers is said to improve yield. Trees should be pruned to a modified leader system. All types are self-sterile so cvs or seedlings should be mixed. Fruits occur mainly on shoot spurs, which remain productive up to five years. Bearing trees may be pruned of surplus branches to about 20% of the old-bearing wood. Tree exhibiting decline may be severely cut back at the top. In India, the trees bear from July to September. Fruits are harvested when the flesh splits open exposing the stone. The flesh is then removed from the stones manually or by machine.
The flowers are white or pale pink with five petals, produced singly or in pairs before the leaves in early spring.
Pests and Diseases
Shot hole, brown rot and anthracnose are major almond diseases. Almond tree also faces problems by Citrus red mite and Southern fire. Brown rot is worse during rain or fog at bloom. Therefore brown rot is a bigger problem in northern growing areas. The same is true of shot hole. Fungicides that are effective for controlling these diseases must be applied preventatively before a rain but a model developed to forecast shot hole incidence is available for validation and could help reduce sprays for this disease.
Almond kernal and expressed oil
are the most commonly used parts of
the almond tree for its commercial
and medicinal purposes.
• Almond milk is still drunk as a kidney tonic and to ease heartburn.
• Almond oil is light, easily absorbed by the skin and can help to alleviate itching eczema.
• Taken internally, it acts as a laxative.
• They have a special dietetic value and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.
• The oil contains glucodides, minerals and vitamins and in rich in protein.
• Sweet almonds are the familiar edible type consumed as nuts and used in cooking or as a source of almond oil or almond meal.
• It keeps well and makes an excellent massage oil either on its own, or used as a carrier oil for selected essential oils in aromatherapy.
• Ground almonds are also beneficial to the skin and make an excellent facial scrub that cleanses and softens.
• Almond oil is good for all skin types and helps to relieve dryness, itching and inflammation.