Almond

Prunus Amygdalus

 

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed.

Edible Uses: Gum; Milk; Oil.

Seed can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder. The whole seed can also be roasted, sprouted or used in cakes, confectionery and pastry. The sweet-flavoured forms have a delicious flavour but bitter forms should not be eaten in any quantity - see the notes above on toxicity. The seed is somewhat difficult to digest and so needs to be thoroughly masticated. It can be blended with water to make almond milk. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is used mainly as a food flavouring and in cooking. An edible gum is obtained from points of damage on the stems.

Medicinal Uses

Antitumor; Demulcent; Emollient; Nutritive; Pectoral.

As well as being a tasty addition to the diet, almonds are also beneficial to the overall health of the body, being used
especially in the treatment of kidney stones, gallstones and constipation. Externally, the oil is applied to dry skins and is
also often used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy. The seed is demulcent, emollient, laxative, nutritive and pectoral. When used medicinally, the fixed oil from the seed is normally employed. The seed contains 'laetrile', a substance
that has also been called vitamin B17. This has a positive effect in the treatment of cancer. In small amounts a poisonous compound produced from this stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being. The leaves are used in the treatment of diabetes. The plant contains the antitumour compound taxifolin.

Other Uses

Adhesive; Cleanser; Cosmetic; Dye; Gum; Miscellany; Oil; Soap making.

An oil expressed from the seeds is an excellent lubricant in delicate mechanisms such as watches. It is often used in soaps
and cosmetics because it has a softening effect on the skin. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark
grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and leaves. The bruised
leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off. A gum from the stems is used as an adhesive. The burnt shell yields a valuable absorbent for
coal gas. The burnt pericarp is rich in potassium, it is used in soap making. The seed contains amygdallin, under the
influence of water and in the presence of emulsion it can be hydrolized to produce benzaldehyde (the almond aroma, formula C6 H5 CHO) and prussic acid (the toxic principle).

Cultivation details

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become
chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position.
Although partially self-fertile, better crops are obtained if at least 2 cultivars are grown. There are two basic forms of almonds, one with bitter seeds and one with 'sweet' seeds. The bitterness is caused by the presence of hydrogen cyanide. Although the bitter forms are used in making marzipan and as a food flavouring. Trees are hardier when grown on a plum rootstock. Almond seedlings are the preferred rootstock when plants are grown on hot dry soils, peach rootstocks are better for heavier soils. Trees are at least partially self-sterile. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged.

Propagation

Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in
a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes
taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow
them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following
year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Difficult. Softwood cuttings from strongly
growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood, late autumn in a frame. Layering in
spring.