Almond Tree and Fruit
The almond is native to Iran, from northwestern Saudi Arabia, north through western Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, western Syria, to southern Turkey. It is a small deciduous tree, growing to between 4 and 10 meters in height, with a trunk of up to 30 centimeters in diameter. The young shoots are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 1 cm long and 1.2–4 cm broad, with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm petiole. The flowers are white or pale pink, 3–5 cm diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs before the leaves in early spring. The fruit is a drupe 3.5–6 cm long, with a downy outer coat. The outer covering or exocarp, (fleshy in other members of Prunus such as the plum and cherry), is instead a leathery grey-green coating called the hull, which contains inside a hard shell, and the edible seed, commonly called a nut in culinary terms. Generally, one seed is present, but occasionally there are two. In botanical terms, an almond is not a true nut. The reticulated hard woody shell (like the outside of a peach pit) surrounding the edible seed is called the endocarp. The fruit is mature in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.
L. Brent Vaughan Hill's Practical Reference Library Volume II (NewYork, NY: Dixon, Hanson and Company, 1906)