The almond tree (Prunus dulcis) grows 20 to 30 feet tall. Flowers appear before other deciduous fruit or nut trees begin to blossom in the spring, according to the University of Arizona. Petals range from white to pink. The flowers appear before or with the almond trees foliage, depending on the variety or cultivar. Almond trees grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 to 9.
Almond Tree History
The almond tree is native to the Mediterranean region. The almond and the peach evolved from the same ancestral species in south-central Asia and are closely related genetically, according to the University of Georgia. Almond trees have been widely grown since 3000 B.C. The tree was first brought to the United States by Spanish padres in the 1700s. Today, the state of California is the No. 1 commercial producer of almonds in the world.
Almond trees grow best in deep, loamy soil. The tree does not tolerate salty conditions, according to the University of Arizona. Long, hot summers with little humidity aids in the production of an abundant almond crop.
The almond tree is grafted onto various rootstocks. In the United States, the primary rootstock used is from the peach tree. Almond seedlings are often used in other parts of the world for rootstock grafting.
Flowers and Pollination
In early spring, fragrant flowers appear. Each pink or white flower has five petals and extra elongated stamens. The almond tree requires cross-pollination to set fruit. Pollination occurs predominately from bees. Wind pollination rarely occurs because of the cool, wet weather of spring, which causes the pollen to become sticky.
The tree produces fruit when it reaches 3 to 4 years of age. Once the tree begins to produce, it alternates years. Almonds are encased in a fleshy husk that splits open to allow the nut to fall to the ground. Commercial harvesting takes place with the help of a mechanical tree shakers. Young trees are hand-picked to reduce damage to their fragile trunks and limbs.