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12 Different Types of Almond Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Tree Types » 12 Different Types of Almond Trees & Their Identifying Features (With Photos)

Almonds were one of the earliest trees cultivated by people, dating back to at least 4,000 BCE.

Almonds are from a single species, Prunus dulcis, a tree that doesn’t exist in the wild.

Sweet Almonds and Bitter Almonds are botanical variants of Prunus dulcis. Bitter Almonds are rarely grown except for the commercial manufacturing of extracts due to their high cyanide content, making them unsafe to eat.

There are about 70 different cultivars of Sweet Almonds available around the world.

Almonds are part of the Rosaceae family and are most closely related to peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries.

Flowering Almonds of the Prunus glandulosa species do not produce almonds.

Indian Almonds are a tropical tree from the Combretaceae family that produces edible almond-like fruits that are difficult to extract.

Let’s look at how to identify almonds and examine some of the different types of almond trees in more detail.

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Almond Tree Identification (With Photos)

Almonds are correctly called Prunus dulcis though many sources refer to it as Prunus amygdalus. To add more confusion, some plant authorities say that both names are accepted. But ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information Systems) states that Prunus amygdalus is a synonym for Prunus dulcis.

Flowering Almonds of the Prunus glandulosa species are very closely related but produce no almonds, only small red drupes.

Indian Almond is a completely unrelated species, Terminalia catappa, from the Combretaceae family. We will also look at some of its characteristics.

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Leaf Arrangement

All true and other almond species have simple leaves arranged singly on alternating sides of the branches or long shoots.

Often there are also short shoots, sometimes called spurs, of tightly grouped leaves that appear whorled. Upon closer inspection, however, you would see that the nodes are simply condensed and only appear whorled. These shoots are also arranged on alternating sides of the branches.

Indian Almond also has tightly condensed leaf nodes producing false whorls, but theirs are at the branch tips.

Almonds never have opposite leaves arranged in opposite pairs at the node, which will help differentiate them from other trees with simple leaves.

Leaf Arrangement - 3 Square - alternate falsewhorl opposite
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Leaf Shapes

Almond trees all have simple deciduous leaves that turn shades of yellow or orange in the fall. Their leaves are never lobed or compound (a leaf made of individual leaflets).

Their leaves have a 0.3 – 1” long petiole (leaf stalk) that may or may not be winged near the leaf base.

The leaf itself is typically oblong (elongated, with parallel sides) to lanceolate (widest at the base and narrower at the tip, similar to an egg shape but narrower, with a length-to-width ratio of 3:1 or greater) or sometimes somewhat elliptical (widest in the middle and narrower at both ends).

Indian Almond leaves are obovate (egg-shaped but widest at the tip) to oblanceolate (like lanceolate but widest at the tip) and much narrower in their lower half near the petiole.

Note that these same terms are often used to describe the shapes of fruits and nuts but are usually given in three-dimensional terms such as ovoid (ovate) or ellipsoid (elliptical).

Leaf Shape - 6 Square - elliptic lanceolate oblong oblanceolate obovate ovate
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Leaf Tips (Apex)

Almond tree leaf tips are always either acuminate (the two sides narrow before meeting at an even narrower angle, creating a long, drawn-out point) or acute (the two sides are more or less straight and meet at an angle of less than 90°).

Indian Almond trees have an obtuse (where the two sides are more or less straight and meet at an angle of greater than 90°) to mucronate tip (having a very short but sharp point).

Leaf Apex - 4 Square - acuminate acute mucronate obtuse
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Leaf Base

Almond tree leaf bases are almost always obtuse, where the two sides are more or less straight and meet at an angle of greater than 90°. Occasionally they may be cuneate, where the sides meet at an angle less than 90° (sometimes called acute).

Indian Almond leaf bases are usually cuneate or occasionally truncate (appearing as though cut off abruptly).

Leaf Base - 3 Square - cuneate obtuse truncate
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Leaf Margins

Almond tree leaves have margins that are variously serrated with blunt to somewhat sharp teeth, or often they are crenate-serrate with teeth that are in between rounded and sharp and may have both present on the same leaf.

Teeth may also have tiny glands on their tips, particularly when the leaves are young.

Indian Almonds have entire margins that have no teeth or lobes of any kind. They do have two glands at the base of their leaf, similar to that seen in cherry trees.

Leaf Margins - 4 Square - crenate entire glandular serrate
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Hairs (Trichomes)

Plant hairs only superficially resemble animal hairs which is why we call them hairs. They are correctly referred to as trichomes, but we will keep it simple and call them hairs.

Almonds are not particularly hairy plants.

Almond leaves are always hairless (also called glabrous).

The drupes, however, are always hairy, usually velutinous (velvety – short to long hairs that feel smooth in one direction), but sometimes the hairs may be more pubescent (short soft straight hairs) or pilose (long soft straight hairs).

Indian Almond leaves are typically hairless or with scattered hairs. Their inflorescence axis and their branch tips, however, are typically tomentose (having short, usually curled, and very matted hairs).

Surfaces - 4 Square - pilose pubescent tomentose velutinous
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Flowers

Almonds, being part of the Rosaceae family, have bisexual flowers with both male and female organs in the same flower.

Even though they are bisexual, most are not self-fertile and require pollinator companion trees (see chart below in Growing Almond Trees In Your Garden).

Their flowers are relatively large at 1 – 3” wide and usually have five free petals (not joined) that are various shades of pink to white. Petals are obovate, elliptic, or almost round.

Ornamental varieties, like the Dwarf Flowering Almond, often have double flowers, which are cultivars that have twice as many, or more, petals as the type species.

Almond flower ovaries (the female organ where the seeds are formed) are noticeably hairy and found in the center of the flower. The ovary is surrounded by multiple stamens (the male organs of the flower = filaments + anthers that produce pollen) that are typically a bright fuschia pink, much brighter than the petals.

Their flowers are usually fragrant and are borne singly or in two-flowered fascicles (clusters) on short pedicels (flower stalks).

Flowers are borne on long shoots (branches), short shoots (also called spurs), or both, depending on the cultivar. They bloom before or occasionally with the emergence of leaves in the spring.

Indian Almonds are monoecious trees with separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Their flowers are small, white, and fragrant and arranged on long slender spikes to 7.8” long with numerous flowers.

Almond Flowers - 3 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and Deepan Raja .M, CC-BY-SA-4.0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Fruits

Almonds, like all members of the Prunus genus, produce drupes, not true nuts.

A nut is a particular kind of dry fruit with a single seed, a hard shell, and a protective husk. A chestnut or an acorn from an oak tree are examples of true nuts.

Drupes are fleshy or dry fruits with a central stony pit that contains the seed. The fleshy or dry part and the stony pit within are derived from a single ovary. A cherry is a good example of a fleshy drupe that we eat the mesocarp (flesh) of.

In the case of almonds, the mesocarp is grayish-green, ovoid-oblong, and velutinous or sometimes pubescent or pilose. As it matures, it becomes dry and leathery rather than fleshy, unlike most members of its genus.

Once mature, this leathery mesocarp splits open to reveal the central stony pit, aka ‘nut’ inside. This nut is made of a stony endocarp (the shell of the nut) that contains the seed or kernel inside, which is the almond that we eat.

The endocarp is hard to somewhat soft, woody, ellipsoid, strongly flattened, and usually pitted. Very soft varieties are called papershell varieties, and their nuts are soft enough to be split by hand.

Even though it is not a true nut, we will refer to the endocarp and the seed within as the nut and the entire drupe as the fruit.

Indian Almonds are similar in having drupes for fruits with a stony endocarp and an edible seed inside. But they are larger and turn from green to yellow to red when ripe and do not dry and split open like almonds when mature.

Almond Fruits - 4 Square
Images via One Green World, Nature Hills, Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and Shijan Kaakkara, Own Work, CC-BY-SA-3.0 – Combined and Text Added by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Almonds are typically classified as Mission, Nonpareil, or California types based on their appearance and marketed uses.

Mission types have small, short, and plump kernels with wrinkled surfaces and dark brown skin. This type is marketed for roasted, salted, or candied almonds.

Nonpareil types are a paper or soft-shell variety with a uniform, smooth, medium size kernel with blond skin. These are premium almonds used for snacking or cut into various forms for cooking.

The California type was established for blanching, slicing, or slivering. Many almonds fall into this category, including any from the above two categories. As a result, they vary considerably in kernel size, color, and appearance.

Identifying Almond Trees by Tree Habit

Tree habit is the overall form or shape that a tree has when viewed from a distance.

Most almond trees start out with vase-shaped crowns made of ascending branches.

Often, as they mature, their crowns may become rounded or open and spreading.

Indian Almonds have large, open and spreading crowns.

Tree Habit - 3 Square - openspread rounded vaseshaped
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Branch Growth

Almond branches are mostly ascending or more spreading when mature. They are hairless, not thorny, and have terminal leaf buds visible at the end of their branches during dormancy.

Their flowers and fruits are produced on long shoots (branches), short shoots (also called spurs), or both, depending on the cultivar.

Indian Almonds have horizontal and spreading branches that create open, spreading crowns.

Spreading branches are those that all spread away from each other; there is generally a mix of ascending branches in the center, horizontal branches in the middle, and the lowermost branches may become descending.

Branch Morphology - 4 Square - ascending descending horizontal spurs
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Identifying Almond Trees by Their Bark

All almond trees’ bark starts out smooth and gray, brownish, or reddish-brown when young, and some will remain more or less smooth as they mature since they are not overly large or long-lived trees.

Their bark typically has visible horizontal lenticels on its surface, similar to cherry bark. Lenticels are pores that allow for gas exchange with the atmosphere. They are short, lighter in color than the bark, and typically raised above the surface of the bark.

Larger or older almond trees sometimes develop irregular grooves or blocky ridges in their bark.

Indian Almond trees have bark that starts out smooth and gray when young but becomes vertically grooved and may exfoliate (peel in strips or at the edges of strips) as it matures.

Bark - 4 Square - smooth lenticels plates grooves
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

12 Different Types of Almond Trees & Their Identifying Features

1. Nonpareil Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Nonpareil’

Nonpareil Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Nonpareil is the most popular commercially grown almond in the world, especially in California, which produces the majority of the world’s almonds.

It’s a small tree that will produce over 20 lbs of thin-shelled, flavorful sweet almonds that are medium to large-sized within 3 – 4 years after planting.

It has beautiful white and pink fragrant flowers that appear in March.

It is not self-fertile, so in order to get sizable crops, you must pair them with other cultivars such as Carmel, Price, Ne Plus Ultra, or All-In-One.

However, it isn’t compatible with Profuse, Tardy, other Nonpareils, and Jefferies.

Best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil.

It is relatively easy to prune and train and grows well in areas with dry summers and cool winters.

It is relatively resistant to frost damage.

Its thin shells don’t always seal completely, making them susceptible to worm and bird damage.

Identifying Features of the Nonpareil Almond

The Nonpareil Almond is a small tree with a vase-shaped crown when young that becomes more open and spreading as it matures.

Flowers appear in 1 – 2-flowered fascicles with pale pink to nearly white blossoms with pink stamens and hairy ovaries.

It produces fruits on both spurs and long shoots, with a good ability to renew fruiting wood, helping produce consistently high yields.

Drupes are gray-green, velutinous, and split open at maturity.

Nuts are medium to large-sized, flattened, with thin, paper-like shells that are easy to crack.

Kernels are broad, full, oval, and high quality with good flavor. The size is about 22 – 25 kernels per ounce.

Other Common Names: California Papershell Almond (sometimes also listed as a separate cultivar)

Origin: Selected by A.T. Hatch in Suisun, California, in 1879.

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 15 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Mission Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Texas Mission’

Mission Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Lyrae Willis, Own Work – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Mission Almond is a later-blooming almond, making it less susceptible to spring frosts.

It grows well in areas with hot, dry summers and cool winters, requiring 500 chill hours to break dormancy.

It produces smaller fat nuts that ripen in October. They are considered sweet and delicious.

Though the nuts are small, it tends to yield well, though production may decline as the trees continue to age.

It is a small tree with a spreading crown and gorgeous pale pink to white blossoms with pink stamens, making it an attractive landscape tree.

Some sources say that it’s partially self-fertile, but commercial growers say it’s not. If you want nut production, you will need other compatible cultivars to ensure good cross-pollination.

The nut shells are well-sealed and less prone to worm and bird damage than Nonpareil.

Best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil. It has moderate water requirements.

Identifying Features of the Mission Almond

Mission Almond is a small upright tree with a vase-shaped to open spreading crown but is often pruned to maintain its shape and productivity.

Flowers are arranged singly or in two-flowered fascicles with five pink to white petals with darker pink stamens in the center.

The drupe is greenish, velutinous, and splits open upon maturity. They tend to develop on spurs rather than on shoots.

Nuts are small to medium with thicker shells than Nonpareils, which are better sealed and less prone to pests.

Kernels are relatively small, short, and plump, with wrinkled surfaces and dark brown skin. They weigh in at 25 to 28 kernels per ounce.

Other Common Names: Texas Mission Almond, Texas Almond, Texas Prolific

Origin: A chance seedling from Texas that was discovered around 1891.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 15 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

3. All-In-One Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘All-In-One’

All In One Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees and Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The All-In-One almond is a compact tree that is self-fertile, so only one tree is needed to get nut production. This makes it a perfect choice for smaller gardens and for orchards that want to reduce their dependence on bees for pollination.

However, yields will increase significantly when an additional cultivar or two are also grown.

The nuts are soft-shelled and ripen in late September or early October. It will start to bear fruits in as little as 2 – 3 years after planting.

Best grown in full sun in any rich, well-drained soil. It will tolerate any other soil type, too, provided that it is well-drained.

It will also tolerate partial shade, but flower and fruit production will be reduced.

It will handle colder winters than most cultivars, down to USDA Zone 5.

It requires 500 chill hours in order to bear nuts (4 weeks at 45 degrees F).

Identifying Features of the All-In-One Almond

All-In-One Almond is a small tree reaching 15 ft tall but only about half as wide with an upright vase-shaped crown with ascending branches.

Leaves are light to medium green, mostly lanceolate with acuminate to acute tips.

Flowers are in small fascicles held close to the branches with pink and quite fragrant petals with darker pink stamens in the center.

The drupe is green-gray, velutinous, and splits open upon maturity.

Nuts are medium-sized with soft shells.

Kernels are medium to large, sweet, and high quality.

Other Common Names: N/A

Origin: Uncertain, appears to have been developed in the 1940s in California.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 5 – 8 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Hall’s Hardy Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Hall’s Hardy’

Hall's Hardy Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images via Nature Hills and Gurney’s Nursery – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Hal’s Hardy Almond is another cold-hardy variety that thrives down to USDA Zone 5. It is probably the best performer for those in USDA Zones 5 and 6.

It requires 800 chill hours to break dormancy and is not recommended above USDA Zone 8.

This tree is often planted ornamentally in borders or as specimen trees for its beautiful pink blossoms that cover its branches in March.

It blooms a little later than other cultivars, providing good protection from spring frosts.

Though self-fertile, it should be planted with multiple trees or another cultivar to ensure good cross-pollination.

The nuts have very hard shells that protect them from pests but make them difficult to crack.

Best grown in full sun in loamy, mildly acidic to neutral soil.

It is a vigorous tree that is easy to care for and has moderate water requirements.

Mulching is recommended to retain moisture.

Identifying Features of the Hall’s Hardy Almond

Hall’s Hardy is a small tree but large for an almond, growing to 20 ft tall, with a rounded or spreading crown.

Leaves are medium green, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, with slightly serrated margins and acuminate to acute tips.

The flowers are showy pink with darker pink stamens, arranged in two-flowered fascicles on short pedicels.

Drupes are greenish-gray and velutinous.

Nuts are medium-sized with thick, very hard shells that protect them from pests and elements but make them much more difficult to crack.

Kernels are small and sweet to slightly bitter.

Other Common Names: N/A

Origin: Uncertain, it is often said to be a peach-almond cross which gives it its mild bitterness and better cold hardiness.

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Penta Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Penta’

Penta Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Penta Almond is a Spanish cultivar grown commercially throughout Europe.

It is more disease-resistant than many cultivars, and its thicker shell makes it less likely to get pest infestations. These factors both reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides.

It blooms later than most almonds, preventing damage from spring frosts, but still matures in late summer.

It is self-compatible and can be grown without the use of pollinizers, making it quite suitable for homeowners and small orchards.

The kernels have a higher heart-healthy monounsaturated fat content than most cultivars and make an excellent choice for making almond butter, marzipan, or other almond-based recipes.

Best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil.

Identifying Features of the Penta Almond

Penta Almond is a small tree with a spreading crown.

Leaves are medium green oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate with slightly serrated to serrate-crenate margins.

Flowers are pale pink to whitish in small fascicles crowded along the branches.

It is considered self-fertile, with high self-compatibility.

Nuts are large with hard shells.

Kernels are small to medium, attractive, and shell out at about 30%.

Other Common Names: N/A

Origin: Penta comes from the cross ‘S5133’ × ‘Lauranne’ owned and registered by Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in 2007 in Spain.

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 15 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Carmel Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Carmel’

Carmel Almond is an exceptional pollinizer for Nonpareil Almonds and is probably used mostly for that purpose.

They are not self-fertile and require the use of multiple cultivars in order to ensure good cross-pollination and nut production.

The nuts have hard, well-sealed shells that make them less prone to pests and diseases. The kernel is considered to be high quality.

Nuts mature 2 – 3 weeks later than Nonpareil trees.

It is susceptible to blossom brown rot and especially scab.

It is also somewhat prone to noninfectious bud failure or “crazy top,” which results in witches brooming in branches and fewer bearing spurs being formed. It is a genetic condition that is not contagious, but once discovered, the tree should be replaced.

Best grown in full sun.

It prefers acidic to neutral loams but will grow in any well-drained soil.

Identifying Features of the Carmel Almond

Carmel Almonds are small trees, more compact than most cultivars, only spreading to about half as wide as it grows tall.

Leaves are mostly lanceolate, medium green, often glossy, with finely serrated margins and acute to acuminate tips.

Flowers are pink to white in few-flowered fascicles that cover the branches in spring.

Nuts are medium-sized, soft-shelled, elongated compared to others, and light in color.

Kernels are light brown in color, somewhat narrow, medium-sized, and sweet in flavor.

Other Common Names: N/A

Origin: Discovered in an orchard in Le Grand, California, as a seedling of Nonpareil and Mission. Introduced in 1966.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 14 ft tall, 6 – 8 ft spread

7. Padre Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Padre’

Padre Almond is a heavy-yielding tree producing lots of small to medium-sized kernels with highly wrinkled skin that holds flavoring well and makes them ideal for cooking and blanching.

The semi-hard shells are well-sealed, making them less susceptible to pests and disease.

It is similar to Mission in its bloom time and harvest time as well as crop size.

Although it will fruit fairly young, it may take a few extra years for it to reach full production.

Blossom densities on trees are very high, making for a lovely spring landscape.

It is not self-fertile and must be paired with other cultivars. It pairs well with Mission, All-In-One, or Nonpareil.

Identifying Features of Padre Almond

Padre Almond is a small tree with a spreading crown, spreading as wide as it grows tall.

It resembles Mission Almond trees but with more branching.

It produces fruits on spurs as well as shoots which helps enhance production and increase yields.

Nuts are semi-hard and well-sealed.

The kernels are more plump, round, and wrinkled than many varieties and have a darker brown skin color.

Other Common Names: Butte Almond – Some sources say the two are synonyms of each other, but other sources describe them as separate but similar cultivars.

Origin: A seedling of a Mission-Swanson cross that was introduced in 1983.

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 15 ft tall, 12 – 15 ft spread

8. Garden Prince Dwarf Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Garden Prince’

Garden-Prince-Almond
Image via One Green World

The Garden Prince Dwarf Almond is a genetic dwarf that grows to a maximum of only 9 ft tall but still produces bountiful crops of tasty sweet almonds.

This small tree has large pink showy blossoms that also make it suitable as an ornamental tree.

It is self-fertile, so only one tree is needed, but hand pollination will ensure larger crops. That, and its small size, make it particularly suitable for small gardens, even urban patios, where it can be grown in a large pot.

It starts bearing fruits in 2 – 3 years, and the nuts are soft-shelled and easy to crack.

Best grown in full sun in well-drained soil.

It performs well in warmer climates, with only 250 chill hours needed for fruit production the following year.

Identifying Features of the Garden Prince Dwarf Almond

Garden Prince is a dwarf tree growing to only 9 ft tall and almost as wide with a spreading crown.

Leaves are medium green oblong-lanceolate with serrated margins and acuminate or acute tips.

The flowers are large and showy pink with darker pink stamens in the center.

Drupes are velutinous to pubescent greenish-gray and split open when mature.

Nuts are soft-shelled, and kernels are small but sweet.

Other Common Names: Garden Prince Genetic Dwarf Almond

Origin: Uncertain, possibly from Zaiger Genetics.

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 9 ft tall, 4 – 8 ft spread

9. NE Plus Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘NE Plus’

NE Plus Almond is a larger almond tree at up to 30 ft tall, but it only spreads to about 10 ft, making it compact for places where space is an issue.

In the spring, its branches are blanketed with profuse pink-white blossoms.

In the summer, its dense canopy of rich green leaves provides shade.

It produces young and is a heavy yielder of large soft-shelled nuts.

Kernels are large but considered inferior but good for processing and cooking.

It is prone to water stress, where it may drop nuts and buds. It is also difficult to train.

Best grown in full sun. It will tolerate partial shade, but blossoms and fruit production will be reduced.

It is not self-fertile and should be paired with other cultivars, such as Nonpareil, to ensure good cross-pollination.

It is susceptible to frost, worm damage, and several diseases.

Identifying Features of the NE Plus Almond

NE Plus Almond is a small tree, but taller than most almonds at up to 30 ft tall, with a compact, narrowly rounded (oval) crown that only spreads ½ – ⅓ as wide as it does tall.

Leaves are a rich green, lanceolate in shape, large, and densely packed on the branches.

Flowers are light pink or pinkish-white and cover the branches in the spring in two-flowered fascicles.

Drupes are grayish-green and velutinous or pubescent and are borne on both long shoots and on spurs.

Nuts are soft and thin-shelled and do not always seal well.

Kernels are very large (20 or less per ounce) but have a high percentage of double kernels at 20%.

Other Common Names: NE Plus Ultra Almond, NEPlus Almond

Origin: Selected and introduced alongside Nonpareil by A. T. Hatch in 1879 in California.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 8 – 10 ft spread

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

10. Bitter Almond – Prunus dulcis var amara

Bitter almonds
Image via mukka7791

Bitter Almonds are nearly identical to Sweet Almond trees, varying in only a single recessive gene that makes the kernels inside the nuts exceptionally bitter.

In very small quantities (one or two kernels), it is said to be a powerful medicine, but eating as few as 10 can be very toxic or even lethal due to the high cyanide content in the kernels. So its use in medicine is only recommended under the supervision of a professional.

It is rarely grown other than for the production of commercial extracts.

It is a small tree with beautiful white or light pink flowers and a dense canopy of leaves that turn golden-yellow or orange-yellow in the fall.

It would make a lovely ornamental tree grown on its own or planted with other cultivars if you need it for production.

Best grown in full sun in any well-drained soil.

Identifying Features of the Bitter Almond

Bitter Almond is a small tree with a rounded or spreading crown spreading almost as wide as it does tall.

Leaves are mostly lanceolate, medium green, and turn yellow to orange-yellow in the fall.

Flowers are white or light pink and arranged in two-flowered fascicles along the bare branches in spring.

Fruits are velutinous drupes that split open upon maturity.

Nuts are nearly identical to Sweet Almonds but slightly shorter and fatter.

Kernels are medium brown in color and taste exceptionally bitter due to the presence of high amounts of amygdalin, benzaldehyde, and prussic (hydrocyanic) acid.

Other Common Names: Lethal Almond

Native Area: Believed to be originally native to Iran and the surrounding area.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 25 ft spread

11. Dwarf Pink Flowering Almond – Prunus glandulosa ‘Rosea Plea’

Pink Flowering Almond - Grid 2 Square
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Dwarf Pink Flowering Almond is a beautiful showy ornamental shrub with profuse pink or sometimes white blossoms.

Most cultivars have double flowers with at least 10, often 20 or more petals per flower.

It is closely related to the almond but doesn’t produce almonds. It produces small red berry-like drupes that are occasionally eaten in preserves but, if left on the shrub, will be loved by birds.

In the fall, its leaves turn coppery yellow.

It is prone to insects and disease, and frequent pruning is essential to maintain its shape and prevent it from sprawling and becoming lanky and messy.

It is somewhat drought-tolerant once established, and it does well in urban conditions.

Best grown in moist, rich soil in full sun. Topdress with compost each spring.

Partial shade will be tolerated, particularly in southern climates, and poorer quality soils will also be tolerated, provided they are well-drained.

Identifying Features of the Dwarf Pink Flowering Almond

Dwarf Flowering Almond is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that grows to about 5 ft tall and almost as wide with a rounded crown that can become loose, irregular, and lanky if left unpruned.

Leaves are elliptical and light green with finely serrated margins. They turn coppery-yellow in the fall.

Flowers are light pink (occasionally white), fully double flowers (having 10, or often 20, or more petals). They appear in early spring, just before or sometimes with the emergence of the leaves.

Fruits are small red berry-like drupes that mature later in summer.

Other Common Names: Dwarf Flowering Almond, Chinese Bush Cherry, Chinese Plum

Native Area and Origin: Originally native to China and Korea, but cultivated in Japan since at least the 1700s; introduced to Western cultures in 1774.

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 4 – 5 ft tall, 3 – 4 ft spread

Available at: Nature Hills

12. Indian Almond – Terminalia catappa

Indian Almond Terminalia_catappa
Image by H. Zell, Own Work, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Indian Almond is a tall tropical tree with fruits that look similar to almonds, giving it its common name even though it is from the completely unrelated Combretaceae family.

The edible seeds are said to be tasty raw or cooked but are exceptionally difficult to extract from the drupes.

It is a low-maintenance tree that is best grown in full sun in any moderately fertile, well-drained sand or loamy sand soil. It will also tolerate other soil types, provided they are well-drained.

It is not frost tolerant and cannot be grown outside of the subtropics.

Once established, it is drought-tolerant.

It will grow next to the ocean or any other saline soil condition, and the seeds remain viable after floating in salt water.

It has been introduced across the tropics and has become invasive in Florida, the Caribbean, and numerous other places around the world.

Identifying Features of the Indian Almond

Indian Almond is a tall tree with a spreading crown with lots of horizontal branches that form obvious tiers.

The bark is brownish-black and grooved and often longitudinally exfoliating when mature.

Twigs are densely tomentose near the tips and covered with conspicuous leaf scars.

Leaves are crowded into false whorls at branch tips, obovate to oblanceolate in shape with a cuneate or truncate base and obtuse or mucronate tip. There are often two glands at the base of the leaf where the petiole attaches, similar to cherry trees.

Flowers are small, white, fragrant, and arranged in numerous-flowered long slender spikes to 7.8” long.

Fruits are red or blackish-green ellipsoid drupes that are ridged or winged and have a very hard woody endocarp inside with an edible seed.

Other Common Names: Country Almond, Malabar Almond, Sea Almond, Tropical Almond, Beach Almond, False Kamani

Native Area: Asia, Australia, Pacific Islands, Madagascar, and Seychelles.

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 55 ft (to 115 ft) tall, 30 – 50 ft (to 90 ft) spread

Amazing Almond Trees

Growing Almond Trees in Your Garden

Almonds trees can sometimes be fussy trees to grow, but with a little research and understanding of their needs, you can successfully grow almonds in your own garden.

Pollination Companion Trees for Almond Trees

The first thing to be aware of is that most almonds are not self-fertile and will require pollinating partners to produce nuts. A few self-fertile varieties are now becoming available. If you have a small yard and want fruit production, then you should look at those.

Self-fertile trees will produce fruit with only one tree. However, all will have increased yields if planted with at least one more of the same or a different tree.

Otherwise, if you have the room, numerous high-yielding self-incompatible cultivars are available to choose from. Be aware that all of these rely almost entirely upon bees for pollination.

Some cultivars flower early, others later, and it is recommended by the Sacramento Valley Orchard Source (University of California) to plant at least three different cultivars to ensure good cross-pollination to account for staggered bloom times that may vary from year to year.

This chart below will give you a good quick checklist of compatible pollinator partners.

Pollination Chart - Almonds
Almond Tree Pollinator Companion Chart (Click to Enlarge) by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Peaches are closely related to almonds and can sometimes be used to help pollinate them. However, most almonds flower earlier than peaches, so an early-flowering peach would be required.

If you are short on space and choose this route, make sure that you still choose two highly compatible almond cultivars, along with your peach, to ensure good cross-pollination and nut production.

Climate Requirements for Almond Trees

The next most important thing to consider is climate. Almonds tend to thrive in USDA Zones 7 – 9 and do very well in Mediterranean-style climates with long hot, dry summers. Only a handful of cultivars will grow down to USDA Zone 5.

If you live in zones 5 – 7, be sure to choose later blooming varieties (Padre, Mission, Thompson, Butte, etc.) to avoid the risk of late spring frosts damaging the flowers.

They also typically require a certain amount of cold in the winter in order to break dormancy and produce fruits the following year. This is generally given in the number of “chill hours” per year, with most requiring 200 – 500 hours at temperatures less than 45°F (7°C ).

The chill hour requirement is why almonds generally will not grow in climates above USDA zone 9 since the winters are not cold enough.

The only almond capable of growing in zones 10 and 11 is the Indian Almond. It is not a true almond, but it does produce an almond-like nut.

If you are not sure which zone you are in, check out the USDA Planting Zones to determine your zone.

Soil, Water, and Light Requirements for Almond Trees

Although almonds prefer well-drained, deep, loamy soils, they will tolerate most poor soils, provided they are well-drained. They are intolerant to wet soils and, for this reason, will also do poorly in clay soil.

Almond trees require a moderate amount of water. If you have less than 25” of annual rainfall, then irrigation will be required to ensure good yields. Although they can certainly survive well on less, nut production will be reduced.

Irrigation is especially recommended in the spring if it is a dry year and then occasionally throughout the summer. You should cease watering about a week before harvesting begins.

They grow best in full sun. While a few cultivars will tolerate partial shade, flower and fruit production will be reduced in partial shade.

Different cultivars may vary in their soil, light, and moisture requirements, so be sure to read up on your chosen cultivar and examine your chosen location, comparing it to the tree’s requirements.

You can also check out How to Pick A Tree For Your Yard for more information on choosing the right tree for the right spot in your yard.

Harvesting Almonds

Cease watering 4 – 7 days before harvest begins.

Almonds ripen from the top of the tree down.

Wait until about ¾ of your drupes have started to split open before you begin your harvest.

The easiest way to harvest the tree is to place a sheet under the tree and shake the tree or use a small stick to knock the branches.

The nuts must be dried and can be left under the tree for a few days, provided they will not get wet, or they can be brought indoors and dried.

Then separate the husks from the nuts and put the husks in your compost.

The dried nuts can then be safely stored in a dry place for many months.

Pests and Diseases of Almonds

Almonds are particularly sensitive to soil-borne diseases like Verticillium wilt. Using grafted specimens on hardy peach or bitter almond rootstocks can prevent this. Also, avoid over-irrigation, relying on soaker hoses instead.

Crown gall is a bacterial disease that gets into the tree by pruning or other wounds on the tree. Be sure to disinfect your equipment before and after pruning.

Brown mites and European red mites are sometimes problematic, damaging the leaves, stressing the tree, and reducing yields. These can be controlled using oil sprays during winter dormancy or by introducing the Western predatory mite.

Interesting Facts About Almond Trees

Prunus dulcis does not exist in the wild. These trees were one of the earliest fruit and nut trees to be cultivated, where there is evidence of their cultivation from at least 6000 years ago in southwestern Asia and the eastern Mediterranean.

The species Prunus fenzliana is thought to be the wild ancestor of the almond, and it is currently native to Armenia and western Azerbaijan.

Bitter almonds are a botanical variant of Prunus dulcis called Prunus dulcis var. amara. Although its official status as a botanical variant is under scrutiny, partly because they vary from the type species in only a single recessive gene that makes the kernels taste bitter.

Bitter almonds contain 42 times higher amounts of cyanide than sweet almonds, which only contain trace amounts that are safe for consumption.

Almonds have a long history of religious and cultural importance. They were mentioned in the Bible when Aaron’s rod blossomed and bore almonds. Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm, and Egypt’s Pharaohs held almonds in high regard.

The first known article on almond tree cultivation is found in a 12th-century Spanish work called the Book on Agriculture.

Almonds are composed of 4% water, 22% carbohydrates, 21% protein, and 50% fat with smaller amounts of iron, calcium, and phosphorus, plus vitamins A, B complex, and E.

Human Uses of Almond Trees

Almond trees are widely cultivated for their delicious and nutritious nuts. Over 4 million tons were produced around the world in 2020, with 57% of that production occurring in California, USA, followed by Spain, Australia, and Iran.

Almonds are sometimes used as ornamental trees for their profuse and often fragrant spring blossoms.

Almonds are widely eaten as snacks and used in cooking and desserts, including cakes, ice cream, and marzipan.

Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally but is no longer recommended for consumption due to the often very high levels of cyanide, which can cause severe or even lethal side effects, particularly in children.

Wildlife Values Almond Trees Provide

The early spring blossoms of almond trees attract countless native and non-native bees that pollinate their flowers and collect nutritious pollen and nectar for their own nourishment.

Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife will eagerly feast on any almonds not harvested from the trees by humans.

Birds and small mammals use the trees for cover and occasionally as habitat.

Almond trees have countless ornamental and food production benefits. I hope you have enjoyed learning more about these amazing trees and the benefits they provide.

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Photo of author

Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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