Almond (amygdalus), a genus of plants, the type of the sub-order amygdaleae, comprehending the almond, plum, peach, cherry, nectarine, and a few unimportant bushes of a somewhat gay appearance. The common almond (A. communis) is a native of Barbary, but has long been cultivated in the south of Europe and the temperate parts of Asia. The fruit is produced in very large quantities, and exported into northern countries. It is also pressed for oil, and used for various domestic purposes. There are numerous varieties of this species, but the two chief kinds are the bitter almond and the sweet almond. The sweet almond affords a favorite article for dessert, but it contains little nourishment, and, of all nuts, is one of the most difficult of digestion. The highly prized Jordan almonds are brought from Malaga. The tree has been cultivated in England for about three centuries, for the sake of its beautiful foliage, as the fruit will not ripen without a greater degree of heat than is found in that climate. The bitter almond contains less fixed oil than the sweet almond. It has a strong narcotic power, derived from the presence of hydrocyanic (prussic) acid, and is said to act as a poison on dogs and some other of the smaller animals.
The distilled water of the bitter almond is highly injurious to the human species, and when taken in a large dose produces almost instant death. The leaves of all the varieties of amygdaleae contain hydrocyanic acid, and are often dangerous, while the fruit may be used with entire impunity.
Almond - Fruit, Flower, Leaves, and Nut.