Prunus dulcis - Almond

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae

Prunus dulcis

This member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region, but it is actually a native of North Africa and western Asia. The pretty bright pink buds of the flowers, which fade to white after they open, appear before the leaves and can often be seen from January onwards in the southern Iberian Peninsula.

Almond tree, southern Portugal

In the Algarve in Portugal, where this specimen was photographed, the once thriving industry of growing almonds for marzipan has collapsed in favour of using cheaper imported nuts from abroad, although the Portuguese continue to make the almond-paste fruits, sweets and desserts for which they are world famous. This means that many of the almond orchards are now abandoned; the fruits of these neglected trees often contain poisonous prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) and should therefore be avoided.

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