What we grow - Biodiversity
HISTORY AND ETYMOLOGY
The almond tree (Prunus dulcis – Rosaceae family – Genus Prunus) is a fruit tree, the seed of which is the edible fruit, the almond. Being belonging to the Rosaceae family, in agronomy, to refer to a set of fruit trees that produce a drupe (Peach tree, plum tree, apricot tree, almond tree and cherry tree are part of it), defined precisely, like Drupaceous. The drupe is a real fruit whose pericarp is divided into three parts: exocarp (Peel, in the case of the almond it would be the hull, the green part that is removed immediately after harvesting), mesocarp (Pulp, which as regards the almond, would be the part between the hull and the shell, available only in the harvest period of the fresh almond, when still green) generally fleshy, endocarp (Shell, hard and woody, but sometimes semi hard or soft, depending on the variety), containing the edible seed. The almond tree was introduced to Sicily by the Phoenicians from Greece (the Romans called it “Greek walnut”), after which it spread to France, Spain and almost all the Mediterranean countries. The fruit of the wild almond (Bitter almond) contains amygdalin glucoside, which transforms into the deadly hydrogen cyanide, for which they were probably roasted to eliminate its toxicity. Domestic almonds (Sweet almond) are not toxic, in fact, it is believed that a genetic mutation caused the disappearance of the amygdalin glycoside thanks to the ability of some farmers to select the fruits, probably domesticated even before the invention of the graft (The plant does not lend itself to propagation by sucker or cutting). It is said that the first domestic almond trees appear in the early part of the Bronze Age (3000-2000 B.C.). An archaeological example of almond tree are the fruits found in the tomb of Tutankamon in Egypt (Around 1325 B.C.), probably imported from the Levant. The almond tree is revered in many cultures and is mentioned many times in the Bible: among other things, the almond tree is present in Syria and Israel. The Hebrew name, “agitated”, “shaken”, remember the harvest form and also means “hardworking” or “vigilant”, as the almond tree is one of the first trees to bloom in Israel, usually in early February. coinciding with a Jewish holiday called “New Year of the Trees”. Since ancient times, the almond tree has been a symbol of promise for its early flowering (The term “Prunus” is already mentioned by Pliny and is probably the Latinization of the Greek word “proumne” which means “plum tree”, while “Dulcis”, on the other hand, means “Sweet”, “Pleasant”, referring to the beautiful appearance of the plant. The almond tree has always been considered a symbol of hope and rebirth due to the fact that it is one of the first plants to bloom with the arrival of spring), which symbolizes the sudden and rapid redemption of God for his people, in fact, in the Bible the almond tree is mentioned many times as one of the “Most chosen products of the country”.
The almond tree is a small, deciduous and broad-leaved tree, up to 5-7 meters high. The almond tree has slow growth and is very long-lived. It has taproot roots and stem at first straight and smooth and gray in color, subsequently twisted, chapped and dark, the leaves, up to 12 centimeters long, are lanceolate and petiolate, while the flowers can be white or slightly pink, with a diameter up to 5 centimeters, with 5 sepals, 5 petals, 40 stamens (Arranged on three verticils) and a pistil with semi-inferior ovary. The flowers bloom in early spring, with one of the earliest blooms and where the climate is mild, even between January and February (Depending on the almond variety). The fruit is a drupe containing the almond, that is the seed with a woody shell covered with a green hull. The almonds are harvested in September-August depending on the variety.
USES AND PROPERTIES
Aware of the benefits that almonds bring, we recommend a daily intake of nuts (About 30 grams) to ward off many diseases, protect the body and keep it healthy. Almonds are less fat, but equally rich in excellent substances, considered a complete food as they contain vitamins of groups B, E, proteins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, phosphorus, fatty acids (Omega 3), fiber. These components are responsible for the properties of almonds, making it a food not only good, but also healthy, as it is rich in:
Antioxidant properties (Especially in the dark skin, called tegument), thanks to vitamin E and unsaturated acids, which protect against oxidative stress, responsible for cellular aging;
Laxative and beneficial properties for the intestine, thanks to the presence of fibers;
Beneficial properties for the nervous system, thanks to magnesium which helps in case of stress and tiredness;
Anti-inflammatory properties, due to the “good” Omega-3 fatty acids;
Properties useful for bone health, thanks to the high calcium content;
Anti-cholesterol properties that promote the well-being of the heart and circulation, keeping triglycerides low, thanks to the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids;
They fight free radicals, protect the organism, helping to keep it away from diseases such as tumors, diabetes or cardio-vascular disorders;
Almonds are used in many sweet and salty recipes, for the preparation of first dishes, as a condiment, in the form of chopped, flour, for the preparation of creams and pesto sauce, or consumed as a snack, they can be found both peeled and natural both sweet and bitter. The wood and almond shells are used as biomass, but also for fertilizing or as mulch.
The almond tree is very suitable for the Mediterranean climate, it resists both summer heat, even dry, and low winter temperatures. Its flowering, which is the earliest among the drupaceous, exposes it a lot to the risk of late frosts, especially in the north. According to the rootstock available, in principle, the almond tree adapts to all types of soils, generally preferring with good drainage, of medium texture and rich in organic substance. The roots are very capable of deepening into the soil and tolerate periods of drought of a reasonable duration. Regarding pollination, we can find self-sterile varieties, which is why it is important to have compatible varieties to optimize this aspect, and self-fertile varieties, capable of self-pollinating. On the latter aspect, the presence of pollinating insects plays a fundamental role, thanks to which there is the advantage of being able to optimize the fruit set, in order to obtain quantitatively satisfactory results, therefore, in recent years the habit is spreading to insert bee hives in the middle of the trees, in order to increase the presence of such insects. Traditionally the almond tree is not irrigated, but with the availability of water, production improves, also contrasting drought times. Regarding the fertilization, manure is distributed, and a few handfuls of rock flours, potassium, magnesium or wood ash. Nettle or equisetum macerates are also always useful, as they also stimulate the plant’s immune defenses, as well as fertilize. The main distributions are made at the vegetative restart and also in late summer, when the plants must accumulate reserves for the winter. In the first years of plant life it is also useful to practice green manure, in order to enrich the soil with organic matter.