Prunus dulcis

Synon: Prunus amygdalus

Almond                                                                                                        Αμυγδαλία


Rossaceae - rose family                                                                                         Dicot.

 
 
 

Almonds are the first trees to bloom and a harbingers of spring, scattering the island with fragrant pale pink blossom. Although they are probably not native to Skopelos they are an important part of the islands ecosystem. It is likely that, like olive trees, they were introduced in ancient times.

Almonds were amongst the earliest trees to be domesticated probably originating in Armenia and Azerbaijan, where they still grow wild1. Exactly how and where almonds were first cultivated remains a mystery but they spread with civilisation along prehistoric sea routes, throughout the Aegean; the first evidence of almonds in Greece is from the Franchthi cave, near the Aegean cost of Peloponnesos from about 11,000 B.C.,2 whether wild on domesticated is not known. They were later disseminated via Greece to the whole of the Mediterranean; the Romans referred to almonds as Greek nuts. Almond trees occur as sweet and bitter varieties, which are poisonous, just how our ancestors selected the sweet ones remains a mystery1.

In classical Greece the nuts and their oil were considered valuable products and became entwined in myths and legends (vide infra).  They were extensively traded; an ancient vessel, the Kyrenia found off the coast of Cypress, dating back to about 350 B.C. was carrying almonds along with wine and olive oil.3

The almond has been nutritionally, ecologically and culturally important throughout Greece for millennia and continues to be so, particularly in the Islands of the Northern Sporades. Sugared almonds, koufeta, are given to the guests at Greek weddings  as are the sweetmeats made of ground almonds, hamalia (Χαμαλια) and rosedes  (ροζεδες), for which Skopelos is famous.



  1. 1. Ladizinsky. On the Origin of Almond.Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution.1999.

  2. 2. The Southern Greek Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic Sequence at Franchthi. Lesson 1: Narrative. Aegean Prehistoric Archaeology. Dartmouth College.

  3. 3. Gradziel.Origin and Dissemination of Almond.Horticultural Reviews. Vol 38.



 

prunus- name of genus of fruit trees including plums, cherries & peaches

dulcis - Latin for sweet

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