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Prunus dulcis (Common almond)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Rosales > Family: Rosaceae > Genus: Prunus

Almond blossoms in late July in Cape Town garden. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ] Almond fruit in November, Cape Town. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]
Apis mellifera (Honeybee), the major pollinator of almond flowers. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ] Almonds. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]

Unshelled almonds. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]

Almonds are believed to have been domesticated about 5000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region. Almonds are an excellent source of calcium, iron, riboflavin and Vitamin E. Calcium levels are higher than in any other nut. Almonds are eaten as a snack and used in many recipes.

Almonds are believed to have been domesticated about 5000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region. Domestication involved hybridisation among a number of species and/or varieties and included selecting for plants with almonds that were not bitter. Bitter almonds contain a cyanide compound - eaten in small numbers your body is able to metabolize the compound rendering it harmless but if you eat them in large numbers you can get sick or die. There is a single recessive gene controlling cyanide formation so it is only expressed in its homozygous (double recessive) state.

Almonds are an excellent source of calcium, iron, riboflavin and Vitamin E. Calcium levels are higher than in any other nut. Fats (54% by weight) are mainly monounsaturated.

Uses

  • Almonds are eaten as a snack raw or roasted.
  • They are use in many baking and cooking recipes.
  • Marzipan is made from sweetened almond paste.
  • Almond oil is added to salads.

Publications

  • Anon. 2002. Encyclopedia of Foods. A Guide to Healthy Nutrition. Academic Press, San Diego, California. 
  • McGee, H. 1991 (first published 1984). On Food and Cooking. The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Harper Collins, London. 
  • Sauer, J.D. 1993. Historical geography of crop plants - a select roster. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.
 

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