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Almond trees range from 6-9 meters tall and have finely serrated leaves that usually appear well after the tree has blossomed. Flowers have five white to pale pink petals that fade to a magenta center. Multiple pollen-laden stamens are clustered around a single pistil that with pollination will eventually ripen into the almond fruit. Almond blossoms have a robust sweet aroma that is reminiscent of jasmine and lily. On the palate, they offer little flavor with mild sweetness.
Almond blossoms are available in the early spring.
Almond blossoms come from the deciduous tree in the rose family botanically known as Prunus dulcis. Others trees in the genus include apricot, cherry, peach and plum. Almond blossoms are one of the earliest to emerge each spring and are therefore very susceptible to frost. They are rarely eaten on their own but rather enjoyed indirectly in the form of honey which has a strong sweet flavor and nutty aftertaste. Almond blossoms have long been admired for their beauty and were an inspiration for Vincent Van Gogh’s still lifes and Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures.
All parts of the almond tree contain taxifolin, a natural compound that has anti-tumor properties.
Almond blossoms are generally used for their aesthetic appeal as an ornamental tree or grown for honey production. They may be eaten raw as a finishing garnish but are delicate and do not stand up to heat. Use Almond blossoms to compliment other almond flavors such as marzipan, maraschino cherries, baked goods, ice cream, and cocktails with amaretto liqueur and orgeat syrup.
Flowering almond branches are carried into synagogues during in the Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat which celebrates the coming of spring.
Almond trees originated in the Mediterranean near present day Syria and North Africa. Today, California’s Central Valley leads the world in global almond production. Spain, Italy, Iran, and Morocco are also commercial almond producers. Almond trees thrive in hot dry climates but do require irrigation.