Almond trees make beautiful landscape trees with their soft pink or white flowers. One of the most important reasons for cultivating an almond tree is for the fruit that it produces known as the almond. In addition to being a tasty food, almonds are also healthy for skin, nails and hair. Almond oil, which comes from the plant's dried kernel, is used by massage therapists in lubricating skin and is an ideal emollient. Although most people consider almonds to be nuts, they're really seeds from the fruit of almond trees.
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Almond trees come from the Rosaceae (rose) family just as many other types of fruit trees including peaches, pears, apples, cherries, plums and apricots. They're small or medium trees that spread out about 10 to 15 feet wide in commercial orchards, according to the University of Georgia website. The tree's leaves, which are roughly three to four times longer than they are wide, are 3 to 5 inches long. They can be linear or somewhat egg-shaped with sharp tips. The tree's fragrant flowers resemble those of a peach tree.
There are two types of almond trees: those that produce sweet almonds and those that yield bitter almonds. While sweet almonds are nonpoisonous and consumed, bitter almonds are toxic and not to be eaten, although they're used in making products such as flavourings. Sweet almonds come from trees with pink flowers and bitter almonds are from almond trees producing white flowers.
Considerations and Warnings
Almond trees do best in well-drained deep loamy soils, but can also grow in poor soils. They need mild winters, as well as hot, long summers with not much humidity. Planting soil should be somewhat fertile without any harmful salts in them. Only trim back roots that have been damaged when planting an almond plant as excessive root pruning can reduce the food supply that is stored in the root system.
Brown Rot Blossom Blight
Brown Rot Blossom Blight, which is one of the most damaging almond tree diseases, is caused by the pathogen known as Monolina fructicola. Symptoms of the disease are a brown powdery substance covering almond blooms which causes them to wither during humid weather. The problem can be fatal if the fungus travels from a blossom to a twig or spur. Fungicides help control the problem.
The almond tree was first domesticated by around 3000 B.C. in Greece, but this tree goes back even further, as wild almonds have been uncovered in Greek archeological sites that date back as far as 8000 B.C. The tree spread throughout northern Africa and then to southern Europe. Later almond trees were brought to California in the 18th century with the almond industry beginning in California at around the turn of the 19th century. Today California continues to lead the world in almond production.
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