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Prunus dulcis
Almonds in and out of shell
Habit: tree
Height:  ?
Lifespan: perennial
Origin:  ?
Exposure:  ?
Water:  ?
Features: flowers, nuts
USDA Zones:  ?
Sunset Zones:
[[{{{domain}}}]] > [[{{{superregnum}}}]] > Plantae > [[{{{subregnum}}}]] > [[{{{superdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{superphylum}}}]] > Magnoliophyta > [[{{{phylum}}}]] > [[{{{subdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{subphylum}}}]] > [[{{{infraphylum}}}]] > [[{{{microphylum}}}]] > [[{{{nanophylum}}}]] > [[{{{superclassis}}}]] > Magnoliopsida > [[{{{subclassis}}}]] > [[{{{infraclassis}}}]] > [[{{{superordo}}}]] > Rosales > [[{{{subordo}}}]] > [[{{{infraordo}}}]] > [[{{{superfamilia}}}]] > Rosaceae > [[{{{subfamilia}}}]] > [[{{{supertribus}}}]] > [[{{{tribus}}}]] > [[{{{subtribus}}}]] > Prunus (Amygdalus) {{{sectio}}} {{{series}}} dulcis {{{subspecies}}} var. {{{cultivar}}}

The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus, or Amygdalus communis) is a small deciduous tree.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Almond. A name given to the tree and fruit of Prunus dulcis. It is also applied to certain dwarf ornamental trees or bushes, as flowering almond (see Prunus).

The almond has been cultivated from time immemorial. It is thought to be native to the Mediterranean basin. Some inquirers have supposed it to be the original of the peach, but this idea is evidently untenable. The flowers are peach-like and handsome. The almond nut of commerce is the pit or stone of a peach-like fruit. The fleshy part, which is so thick and edible in the peach, is thin and hard, and it splits at maturity. There are two general tribes or races of almonds,—the bitter and the sweet. The former has a bitter kernel, which is used in the manufacture of flavoring extracts and prussic acid. It is grown mostly in Mediterranean countries. Of the sweet or edible almonds, there are two classes,—the hard-shell and the soft-shell. The former is of little value, and is not grown to any extent. The soft-shell type produces the edible almonds of commerce. Some of the thinnest-shelled forms are known as Paper-shells. It was once thought that almond-growing could be successfully practiced in the peach-growing sections of the East, but late spring frosts, and other difficulties, have caused the effort to be abandoned commercially. Individual almond trees are occasionally seen, and they frequently bear profusely. They are nearly as hardy as the peach. The commercial cultivation of the almond on this continent is confined to western America, and the remainder of this account is therefore written from the Californian standpoint.

The two chief sources of failure with the almond are the sterility of many varieties without cross-pollination, and the extreme propensity of the tree for early blooming, with the consequent destruction of the bloom or the young fruit by temperature very little below the freezing point.

The soil best suited to the almond is a light, well- drained loam. The tree makes a strong and rapid root-growth, and is more tolerant of drought than any other of our leading deciduous fruit trees. For this reason, as well as to avoid frost, it is often desirable to place the almond on the higher and drier lands of the valley— providing the soil is not heavy and too retentive of surplus water in the rainy season. The root is most intolerant of standing water, and will quickly die if exposed to it. Because of its thrift in light, dry soils, the almond root is used rather largely as a stock for the Prune d'Agen, and to some extent for the peach in the dry valleys.

Almond trees are grown by budding into seedlings grown from either the sweet or the bitter hard-shell almonds, the bud being set during the first summer's growth of the seedling, and then either planted out as a dormant bud the following winter or allowed to make one season's growth on the bud in the nursery. The tree grows so rapidly, both in root and top, that only yearling trees are used.

At transplanting, the young trees are cut back so as to form a low head with only about a foot of clear trunk. They are allowed to make free growth during the following summer, and in the following winter are cut back so as to encourage branching on the main limbs within a foot of their attachment to the trunk. At the same time, the branches are reduced to four or five in number, symmetrically arranged around the stem and at good distance from each other, so that they shall not unduly crowd each other as they enlarge. Another full growth during the following summer and another cutting back the following winter give the trees the vase-form on the outside, with enough interior branches to fill the inside of the tree without crowding. Thus the tree is systematically pruned after each of its first two years' growth in the orchard. After that, shortening-in of the branches usually ceases, and the third summer's growth is allowed to stand for fruit-bearing, with only thinning-out of growth to prevent crowding. This thinning-out has to be done from time to time in later years, otherwise the tree becomes too thick, and interior branches dwindle for lack of light. The amount of thinning varies in the different climates of the state: the greater the heat, the denser the tree for its own protection. With the proper adjustment of heat and light, fresh bearing wood may be encouraged in the lower part of the tree, otherwise it becomes umbrella-shaped, with the fruit wood at the top and bare poles below.

The almond is the earliest bloomer of our common fruits. It puts forth flowers sometimes as early as January, but the usual date is about February 10 for the earliest bloomers in the warmer parts of the state, with the later bloomers at intervals thereafter until April 1. Records of full bloom of a number of varieties widely grown in California, which have been kept at the University of California substation, situated in the Sierra foot-hill region, show the following succession: Commercial, February 27; Sultana and Paper-shell, March 10; King and Marie Duprey, March 11; IXL, March 12; Languedoc, March 19; Nonpareil, March 20; Routier Twin, March 24; Pistache, March 25; Drake and Texas, April 2. Obviously the late bloomers have greater chance of escaping frost, and there is at present some disposition to make this a consideration in selecting varieties for planting. The dates just given show an extreme variation in time of blooming. Some years the intervals are much shorter, but the relation seems to be constant. The crop ripens from August 15 to October 1, accorcding to locality. Early maturity does not follow early blooming—that is, as with other fruits, the first to bloom are not necessarily the first to ripen.

Not less than twenty-five varieties of almonds have been grown to a greater or less extent in California. Varieties of foreign origin have almost wholly given place to selected seedlings of local origin, and of these a very few constitute the main crop at present. These are named in the order of their acreage, as follows: Nonpareil, Ne Plus Ultra, IXL, Drake, Texas Prolific, Languedoc. Of these, the first three occupy not less than three-fourths of the acreage.

In handling the crop, the local climate modifies methods somewhat, and the growth-habit is also involved. In regions very free from atmospheric humidity in the summer, the hull opens readilv and discloses a clean, bright nut, which can be marketed without treatment. Where this is not the case, and the nut is more or less discolored, bleaching in the fumes of sulfur has to be practised. The nut must be dry before sulfuring, or the fumes will penetrate and injure the flavor of the kernel. Sulfured nuts also lose largely in power of germination. The practice is to gather the nuts, dry for a few days in the sun, then spray with water very lightly or with a jet of steam, so that only the surface of the shell is moistened, and then sulfur, and a light color can be secured without penetration of the fumes. The nuts can usually be gathered from the ground as they naturally fall, or can be brought down by shaking or the use of light poles. Some varieties are more easily harvested than others, and the same variety falls more readily in some localities than in others. A greater or less percentage, according also to variety and locality, will have adhering hulls, and for clearing them, locally-invented machines, called almond-hullers, are used. Early rains in some localities are apt to stain the nuts. Such stains cannot be removed by sulfuring, and the nuts have to be crushed and the product marketed as kernels for the use of confectioners. Machinery is also used for this operation, and a considerable fraction of the product reaches the market in this form because of the demand for candied and salted almonds.

The standard of excellence in the almond, from a commercial point of view, as learned by the experience of California producers, is that the kernel must be as smooth, symmetrical and plump as possible. The twinning of kernels, welcome as it may be to searchers for philopenas, results in misshapen kernels, which are very objectionable to the confectioners, who are very large users of almonds. Constancy to single kernels is therefore a good point in a variety.

Large proportion of kernel to shell by weight is also, obviously, an important point to almond-buyers. At the same time, the shell may be so reduced in strength as to break badly in shipping in sacks and in subsequent handling. Incomplete covering also exposes the kernel to the sulfur and to loss of flavor. The ideal is such degree of thinness of shell as can be had with complete covering of the kernel and durability in handling.

Careful comparison of the proportion of kernel weight to gross weight of the popular California varieties, as compared with a leading imported variety, was made by a committee of the California Horticultural Society, with the following result: From one pound of each of the following varieties the net weight of kernels in ounces was: Imported Tarragona, 6 3/5; California Languedoc, 7 1/2; El Supremo, 7 1/2, Drake, 8 3/4; IXL, 9; Commercial, 9 1/4; La Prima, 9 1/2; Princess, 9 1/2; Ne Plus Ultra, 10; King, 10; Paper-shell, 11; Nonpareil, 11 to 13. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Prunus communis, Fritsch (Amygdalus communis. Linn. Prunus Amygdalus, Stokes). Almond. Figs. 161-163, Vol. I. Peach-like tree, 10-25 ft. tall, with gray bark: lvs. lanceolate, firm and shining, very closely serrate: fls. large (1 in. and more across), solitary and appearing before the lvs., pink, showy: fr. a large compressed drupe with hard flesh, splitting open at maturity and liberating the pitted stone (or almond). Asia. —Grown as an ornamental tree, but chiefly for the nuts (pits or stones of the fr.). There are double-fld., white- fld., and variegated-lvd. forms, also dwarf and weeping forms, under such names as albo-plena, roseo-plena, purpurea, compacta, variegata, pendula. The forms may be ranged in two classes: Var. typica, Schneid., the hard-shelled almond, grown mostly for ornament, although there are bitter-kerneled and sweet-kerneled forms (vars. amara. and dulcis): var. fragilis, Schneid., the soft-shelled or brittle-shelled almond, of which there are also vars. amara and sativa. See Almond. P. per- sicoides, Asch. & Graebn. (Amygdalus communis var. persicoides, Ser. A. persicoides, Zabel), is an old hybrid of P. Persica and P. communis, with foliage much like the latter but usually more sharply toothed, and fr. intermediate or perhaps more peach-like, usually ovoid- obtuse and little succulent.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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