The ancient travelers and traders, who circulated back and forth over the Silk Road route between Greece and Turkey, used almonds in their commercial trading, in exchange for other expensive and desirable goods. Native almond trees, ‘Prunius dulcis,’ are found growing in Western Asia, and biblical references suggest that almond nuts have been grown in Israel since 2000 B.C. from time immemorial in the ancient land of Canaan Mandelsteine; according to the book of Numbers in the Testament. Other references to almonds in the Bible are found in the books of Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and Jeremiah. The Old Testament Bible records the fact of Aaron’s staff blossoming and developing into edible almonds, suggested that this divine miracle expressed the approval of God to Aaron and his brother, Moses as acceptable leaders of the Israelites.
Researchers believe that the almonds available on today’s markets evolved from an ancient plant in China (Mongolia) that had a bitter kernel, much like the peach kernel. Through selective growing over the centuries, kernels appeared that demonstrated a characteristic sweet, spicy, crunchiness that U.S. almond tree growers prefer over bitterness.
In recent years, almond nuts harvested from trees in California have become an excellent product of considerable importance. The first almond trees sent to the new world to America from Spain in the mid 1700’s by Franciscan monks were planted in Spanish monasteries near Sacramento, California. Almond trees are closely related to other stone fruits, such as the cherry, peach, and plum, but it is the stone that forms the food product from the almond, but the fleshy substance that surrounds the pit. The leaves on almond trees are dark green, much like the long narrow leaves on peach trees, a genetically and similar related tree; a closeness that has been confused by many amateur gardeners, but the edible fruit parts are entirely and unmistakably different.