The almond tree’s origins can be traced back to the Mediterranean and as such it is no wonder that the tree thrives in warm, sunny weather. The upright, deciduous tree can be sensitive to wet and frosty conditions, but does well in the Western Cape region of South Africa.
Growing to a height of 4 – 6 m with a spread of 3 – 4 m, the leaves of the tree are dark green and have a lance-like shape. White to pale pink flowers blossom in early spring and grow singly or in pairs. Fruit start to appear after flowering and is similar in appearance to a young peach. However, the fruit is not fleshy and has a leathery exterior, which protects the seed of the tree. Once the drupes mature, the hull splits open to expose the seed which is encased in a hard, brown shell. Almond trees start growing almonds after about three years, but attain maturity after about six years and can keep producing almonds for over fifty years.
Almonds are nutritious and versatile. The nut can be eaten raw or be processed into butter, flour, oil and pastes. The oil is used as a flavouring agent in baked goods and medicines and is also utilised in the making of cosmetic creams and lotions.