Almond Blossom Photos
When the almond trees are in blossom in early spring in Valencia, they are a sight to behold.
Fields and fields filled with blossom, ranging in color from white, through pale pink to deep pink.
It is a wonderful experience to amble through the fields and breathe in the glorious scent that fills the air, and listen to the hum of bees busy pollinating the flowers to produce this years crop of almonds.
The flowering period only lasts a week or two, then you have to wait a whole year before they put on such a fine display again.
When the breeze blows as the blossom starts to drop, the air is filled with snow-like flakes, like confetti falling on the new bride of spring, with the promise of things to come.
Almonds trees have grown in Valencia for over 1000 years, and Spain today is the second largest producer of almonds in the world, after the United States.
California contains the largest almond growing production areas in the world, producing a massive 68% of the supply, while Spain lags behind at 16%. Interestingly, it was the Franciscan monks who introduced the almond tree to America in the mid 1700s, from Spain.
The almond tree originated in the Mediterranean climate of the Middle East.
Spanish almonds are full of flavour and are of the highest quality, but the trees are nowhere near as productive as the California trees, as the soil in Spain is poor and very few trees are afforded the luxury of irrigation.
Having said that, Spain uses a huge amount of almonds, and only export a fraction of what they produce.
The Spanish people are very fond of a sweet called turrón, that is made primarily from a mixture of almonds and sugar and the shops are always well-stocked with it.
Amaretto is a liqueur made from almond extract and very nice it is with Coco-cola.
Almond trees, prunus dulcis, or sweet almond, normally have white flowers. The pink and deep pink varieties come under the so-called bitter almonds which are used more for flavouring extracts and for making liqueurs and medicines.
The tree is usually reproduced by grafting or budding, as they do not throw out suckers from the base, and it is impossible to get cuttings to root.
They can be grown from seedlings (which do not come true to the parent), or by grafting the variety of choice onto a seedling.
I've enclosed a few full sized photographs of the almond trees in full bloom, below.