Almond tree identification

The Almond prunus dulcis is a fruit tree native to North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East. It was introduced to Britain in the 1350s but was well known in Greek and Roman times where it was known as Prunus amygdala. It is famed in history for its early flowering and promise of spring. The flowers appear in March, well before the leaves and the green fruit develops by the end of May.  In some countries the whole fruit is eaten at this stage  before the stone and seed become hard. Eventually the fleshy covering dries out and splits to reveal a hardened pitted stone (called a shell) inside which is the seed.  Sometimes the almond seed has its brown skin removed and is sold as a blanched almond.

Almond tree identification is by its pink/white flowers in March before the leaves, its willow-like leaves and green hairy fruit in May. 

California orchards produced over 2.3million tonnes of almonds (80 percent of the world’s supply) in 2020. Production takes place in huge monoculture orchards. In spring millions of trees need to be  pollinated in just a few weeks. Honeybees  are  bred as crop pollinators throughout the USA and in spring millions of hives are transported to California  to pollinate the Almond trees. 

The Prunus genus of over 400 species of trees and shrubs includes Wild Cherry, Flowering Cherries, Plum, Apricot, Peach, Almond,  Blackthorn  and Bird Cherry. 

 

Mature tree in Mallorca in May

Flower buds just opening in March before the leaves. They are located singly or in pairs along the stem.

Flowers are white or pink and large, up to 5 cm diameter. Flowers are pollinated by bees seeking pollen and nectar. The tree flowers in March  after Cherry Plum but before  Sargent’s Cherry – click HERE for more information. 

 

Leaves are willow-like, unlike most Prunus species, with fine teeth

Fruit at the end of May. The fruit is a drupe with a green fleshy, hairy outer covering that eventually turns brown and  splits to reveal a pale pitted stone (called a shell) which encloses the seed.

Four almond seeds which have been blanched to remove the brown skins. These are from a Spanish variety called Marcona which are sweeter, flatter and more rounded than the California varieties. 

Peach Prunus persia has similar leaves but is a shrub usually grown against a wall.

The bark is dark and ridged on older trees.