Almond, a tree, eminent both for its fruit, and for the ornament which it affords to a shrubbery. It is the original of the ancient genus amygdalus, and by the botanic characters of the flowers, comprehends also the: peach and nectarine. Botanists admit but of one real species of the common almond tree, which they term Amygdalus communis. Not being indigenous, we shall omit its particular description, and proceed to state the. properties and effects of its fruit on the human body.
Sweet almonds are supposed to afford but little nourishment, and are not easily digested, unless tho-roughly triturated. Six or eight of them peeled and eaten, sometimes give immediate relief in the heart-burn. In medicine, they are chiefly used for preparing emulsions, as they abound not only with an oil, but likewise with a mucilage til tor incorporating oil and water. We have already observed that this fruit is difficult digestion, on account of the oil it contains, which quickly becomes acrid in the stomach; hence it is particular!; improper for bilious constitutions. The various preparations of almonds are liable to similar objections: and it is therefore absurd to give almond milk as a common dickdrink to febrile patients; for, as it consists entirely of oily and insoluble parts, it not only heats and vitiates the stomach, but at the same time occasions an accumulation of bile.
Almonds as well as nuts, ought to be eaten only while fresh, and without their skins. They should be well chewed; for every piece swallowed entire, is indigestible. The use of a little salt, however, renders them miscible with our fluids, as a saponaceous mass'} but, if indulged in to excess, they are productive of alarming, and sometimes fatal disorders.
The expressed oil of bitter almonds, is, in eases of poison, recommended preferably to all others; but care must be taken not to use the chemical, instead of the natural oil, as the former is itself a poison.
Bitter almonds are now generally disused. They have been found to destroy some kinds of animals; hence modern physicians prescribe them with more caution; they are, nevertheless, frequently employed, . for making orgeat and other liquors, without producing any bad effect.
Almond. - Although we have declined to give a particular description of the Almond-tree, yet as it is frequently cultivated in shrubberies, both on account of its beautiful flowers, and also for its fruit, we shall here add an outline of the manner in which it should be managed.
Almonds are propagated by Inoculation, or budding on plum or peach stocks, in the month of August, at such bright as may correspond to that of the stem intended to be raised : at the expiration of two years, the trees may be finally planted out. If the soil be dry, this operation should be performed in October, when the leaves begin to decay ; but, in case the ground be wet, the proper season is the month of February.
When the young trees are removed from the nursery, Mr. Forsyth is of opinion, that they should never be cut, or pruned, " till the new shoots begin to " break ;" and, as these frequently perish during severe winters, that succeed wet autumns, when the wood is not well-ripened, he directs them to be cut down to the sound wood; care being taken to extirpate with the knife all cross shoots, so as to make the tree open in the middle, and to leave the principal shoots, according to their strength, from six to sixteen inches long. Those parts, which are affected with the Canker, must also be cut out ; and such excision ought farther to be extended to all decayed wood.
Almond-trees being very delicate, it will be advisable to place them in a southern aspect, and in a sheltered situation, either among tall flowering shrubs, or to thatch their tops with fern, or other light covering; covering; in order to prevent the blossoms from being killed by the frost, during the months of February and March. When the fruit is set, and the leaves are sufficiently long to cover it, such shelter ought, if the weather be warm, to be removed toward the end of April, or early in May ; by which expedient an abundant supply of almonds may be obtained for the dessert, both in autumn and in the winter.
The fruit of the almond-tree is chiefly valued on account of its kernels: it may be preserved either in dry bran, or in sand; but it ought previously to be dried on shelves or boards in an open situation ; as it is otherwise apt to become mouldy, and consequently the kernels will be unfit for use.