Almond (Eng); almendro, almendrero (Spa); ametller (Cat); almendrondoa (Baq); amendoeira (Glg); amendoeira (Por).
"(...) A beautiful tree that prospers in our islands, rising tall and announcing our early spring with its flowers".
José de Viera y Clavijo, clergyman, writer and Canarian naturalist
This small tree is sometimes shrubby in appearance, although it can be as much as 10 m tall. The trunk usually is twisted, fissured and blackens with age. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, narrowly lanceolate and with a finely serrated or crenate margin. They are 4-12 cm long and 1.2-4 cm wide. They are bundled together at the tips of the youngest branches. The flowers are up to 3 cm long, hermaphroditic, and bloom in winter, before the leaves appear. They form numerous aromatic groups that are very attractive to insects. They have 5 white or pinkish petals. The fleshy part of the fruit is green and, when it dries, peels off to uncover the seed, the almond.
It can be found in dry, temperate climates and prefers limey soils. It is undemanding when it comes to water and withstands drought well, but suffers if there are late frosts. In the Canaries, it tends to have been cultivated in the highest zones of the islands. Currently, it grows of in the wild from altitudes of 600 m to the summits, always in sunny zones and generally protected from the direct influence of the trade winds and the sea of clouds.
This species is native to central and southwestern Asia, as well as North Africa, and it is very widely cultivated. One of the most widely-accepted hypotheses is that the Phoenicians brought the almond to Spain. In the Canary Islands, the almond tree was introduced by European colonists after the Spanish conquest, and it has become established in the wild on the islands of La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.