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Toxic parts

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Edible uses


Seed - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder for use in confections etc[1][2]. The whole seed can also be roasted, sprouted or used in cakes, confectionery and pastry[2]. The sweet-flavoured forms have a delicious flavour but bitter forms should not be eaten in any quantity - see the notes above on toxicity. The seed is somewhat difficult to digest and so needs to be thoroughly masticated[3]. It can be blended with water to make almond milk[2]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[2]. It is used mainly as a food flavouring and in cooking[4][5]. An edible gum is obtained from points of damage on the stems[6].

Unknown part

Material uses

An oil expressed from the seeds is an excellent lubricant in delicate mechanisms such as watches[3]. It is often used in soaps and cosmetics because it has a softening effect on the skin[3][1]. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves[7]. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit[7]. A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and leaves[8]. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off[3]. A gum from the stems is used as an adhesive[6]. The burnt shell yields a valuable absorbent for coal gas[9]. The burnt pericarp is rich in potassium, it is used in soap making[9]. The seed contains amygdallin, under the influence of water and in the presence of emulsion it can be hydrolized to produce benzaldehyde (the almond aroma, formula C6 H5 CHO) and prussic acid (the toxic principle)[9].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

As well as being a tasty addition to the diet, almonds are also beneficial to the overall health of the body, being used especially in the treatment of kidney stones, gallstones and constipation[10]. Externally, the oil is applied to dry skins and is also often used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy[238, K]. The seed is demulcent, emollient, laxative, nutritive and pectoral[3][1][11]. When used medicinally, the fixed oil from the seed is normally employed4]. The seed contains 'laetrile', a substance that has also been called vitamin B17[12]. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this[K]. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison - it should thus be treated with caution[12]. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being[10]. The leaves are used in the treatment of diabetes[12]. The plant contains the antitumour compound taxifolin[12].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - requires 2 - 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[13]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[13]. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate[14]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame[15][13]. Difficult. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame[13]. Cuttings of mature wood, late autumn in a frame. Layering in spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Prunus dulcis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil[15][13]. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present[16]. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[15][13]. The almond is often cultivated in the temperate zone for its edible seeds, there are many named varieties[17][13]. It prefers a Mediterranean climate with a clear distinction between winter and spring, in milder maritime areas it can be induced into flower too early in the season and is then very liable to be damaged by frosts[13]. There is also likely to be a shortage of pollinating insects around when the tree is in flower so hand pollination may improve the crop. Although partially self-fertile, better crops are obtained if at least 2 cultivars are grown[13]. There are two basic forms of almonds, one with bitter seeds and one with 'sweet' seeds. The bitterness is caused by the presence of hydrogen cyanide (see notes above). Although the bitter forms are used in making marzipan and as a food flavouring, the seeds themselves should not be eaten. Even the sweet forms should not be eaten in very large quantities. (Approximately 900 seeds at one time is considered to be a toxic dose for the average adult). Trees are hardier when grown on a plum rootstock[15]. Almond seedlings are the preferred rootstock when plants are grown on hot dry soils, peach rootstocks are better for heavier soils[13]. Trees are at least partially self-sterile. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged[10]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[13].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Prunus dulcis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Prunus dulcis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Prunus dulcis
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    6 x 6 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-01-01)
    2. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-01-01)
    3. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-01-01)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    5. ? 5.05.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-01-01)
    6. ? Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins. Faber ()
    7. ? Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-01-01)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Niebuhr. A. D. Herbs of Greece. Herb Society of America. (1970-01-01)
    9. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-01-01)
    10. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-01-01)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-01-01)
    12. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-01-01)
    13. ? 13.0013.0113.0213.0313.0413.0513.0613.0713.0813.0913.1013.11 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-01-01)
    14. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-01-01)
    15. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-01-01)
    16. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-01-01)
    17. ? Howes. F. N. Nuts. Faber (1948-01-01)

    Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-89" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.

    Facts about "Prunus dulcis"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Belongs to familyRosaceae +
    Belongs to genusPrunus +
    Has binomial namePrunus dulcis +
    Has common nameAlmond +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partUnknown part + and Seed +
    Has edible useGum +, Milk +, Oil + and Unknown use +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile + and Insects +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone7 +
    Has imagePrunus dulcis - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-250.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useAdhesive +, Cleanser +, Cosmetic +, Dye +, Gum +, Oil + and Soap making +
    Has mature height6 +
    Has mature width6 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntitumor +, Demulcent +, Emollient +, Nutritive + and Pectoral +
    Has primary imagePrunus_dulcis_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-250.jpg +
    Has search nameprunus dulcis + and almond +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy namePrunus dulcis +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheSecondary canopy +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedYes +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF material use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedYes +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis +, Prunus dulcis + and Prunus dulcis +