The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus) is a species of tree native to Mediterranean climate regions of the Middle East, from Syria and Turkey to India and Pakistan, although it has been introduced elsewhere.
Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by corrugations on the shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.
The fruit of the almond is a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed, which is not a true nut, inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are sold shelled or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed to reveal the white embryo.
The almond is native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East, from Syria and Turkey eastward to Pakistan. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe, and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California, United States.
Almonds were one of the earliest domesticated fruit trees due to the ability of the grower to raise attractive almonds from seed.
Almonds are usually brown or green in colour.
The colour of an almond flower is pink-coloured in the centre, then slowly blends into white.
The pollination of California's almonds is the largest annual managed pollination event in the world, with close to one million hives (nearly half of all beehives in the US) being trucked in February to the almond groves. Much of the pollination is managed by pollination brokers, who contract with migratory beekeepers from at least 49 states for the event. This business has been heavily affected by colony collapse disorder, causing nationwide shortages of honey bees and increasing the price of insect pollination. To partially protect almond growers from the rising cost of insect pollination, researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed a new line of self-pollinating almond trees. The new, self-pollinating hybrids possess quality skin color, flavor, and oil content, and reduce almond growers' dependency on insect pollination.
In 2016, world production of almonds was 3.2 million tonnes, with United States providing 63% of the total. As other leading producers, Spain, Iran, and Morocco combined contributed to only 14% of the world total production.