What Is The Significance Of An Almond Tree? The Significance and History Of Almond Trees

The almond tree – a tree famous for its delicious nut used to make butter, oil, milk and flour. This tree has been part of so many significant historical and biblical events. 

Your first time hearing about it might have been from the Bible or the news— because they are bearing the brunt of environmentalists’ anger.

This is because they are blamed for the drought-stricken situation in California.

Nevertheless, no matter where or how you heard about it, there’s so much unknown information about almonds. Let’s discuss some in this article. 

An orchard of almost trees blossoming

What Is The Significance Of An Almond Tree?

The almond tree signifies several things. Its flower and nut also possess some level of significance either in a general sense or religion/culture.

As the first flower of the year, the almond tree is the Awakener; hence it depicts watchfulness; it also represents sweetness and charm. In Chinese culture, it represents feminine beauty and thoughtful alertness.

In traditional Christianity, the almond represents divine favour, acceptance and the purity of the immaculate Virgin Mary.

The almond blossom is a signal for the winter’s end and the harbinger of the approaching springtime.

In Israeli culture, the almond tree symbolises spring, renewal, and hope.

When Were Almonds Discovered?

In 3000 B.C, the almond tree was discovered in the Middle East, with wild variants of almond trees growing in North Africa, West Asia, and Greece.  

Modern almond trees were brought to the state of California in the 1700s by Spanish explorers. These explorers settled at the Santa Barbara Mission, where they cultivated Almonds commercially in the early 1800s.

However, the University of Georgia contests that the almond trees were alongside the peach fruit in South Central Asia before becoming a widespread deciduous tree. In today’s landscape, almond trees grow in parts of Central Asia, Italy, Spain, and Greece.

What Does The Branch Of An Almond Tree Represent In The Bible?

In the bible, the almond tree represents God’s watchfulness over his people. Experts in Christendom use almond branches to point to Jesus’ virgin birth.

Many depictions of Mary show her enshrouded in an almond-shaped aura of light, with the almond shape remaining a symbol of Mary and her holiness. 

How the nut is formed also has some significance. The nut is concealed within an outer skin; which signifies the divinity of Christ hidden within the mortal human form.

How Long Does An Almond Tree Take To Grow?

An almond tree takes approximately twelve years to fully mature to the production stage. It can produce fruit for as long as thirty years, depending on the kind of soil and environment. 

According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone, these trees need specific climate conditions similar to the Mediterranean, to produce fruit, limiting the regions where they can be cultivated globally.

Almond trees typically begin to sprout flowers in the springtime, around February. The flower buds appear a few months before this, as far back as November of the previous year. 1

How Much Space Does An Almond Tree Need?

Trees should be planted 15 to 25 feet away from other trees. The almond tree has the potential to reach heights of about 10 to 20 feet when cultivated on land that possesses all the vital necessities.

Do Almond Trees Have A Scent?

The almond tree has a sweet and floral scent. Even though the almond bush doesn’t produce almonds, it does give off a strong, sweet almond scent.

Are Almonds Killing The Environment?

Despite their high-water usage, almond trees improve air quality by capturing and storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. These trees also produce oxygen and function as a natural filter, cleaning pollutants from the air we breathe and can directly be accounted for $11 in annual averted health costs.

Even better is the fact that the almond tree and its co-products—the hulls and shells aid in negating the carbon footprint generated through almond production. 

The coproducts are typically utilized for dairy feed, livestock bedding, and electricity generation. This allows almond farmers to lead innovation for more sustainable uses, with promising research studies in organic fuel, recycled plastics, and agriculture.

One of such recent innovations involves a concept known as whole orchard recycling, which improves soil health, water usage efficiency, and removal of greenhouse gases & carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

According to the Almond Board of California, farms that use whole orchard recycling sequester 2.4 tons of carbon per acre, equivalent to living car-free for a year. 2

Read this article to learn more about Almonds effect on the environment.

Is Almond Farming Sustainable?

The water needs of almonds became quite a hot topic of concern in 2011, so much so that it required the Californian Governor at the time, Jerry Brown, to declare a drought emergency in the state. 

Since the continued outrage from environmentalists, almond farmers across the state and globe have been working to improve water efficiency in almond cultivation. Progress has been reported in the United States as the amount of water required to grow a pound of almonds has been reduced by 33% over the last two decades, per the US Sustainability Alliance.

The almond farming community in California is further committed to reducing consumption rates by another 20% come 2025. New reports also state that almost 80% of farmers in the state have switched to more efficient modern practices such as Micro-irrigation. 3

Micro-irrigation is a system that conserves water by applying it only where needed. 

Groundwater recharge, a process where orchards are deliberately flooded during periods of water availability to allow water gradually seeps into underground aquifers, is also seen as another environment-friendly.

Unfortunately, the almond sustainability story doesn’t just end with water. For almonds to grow, bees must pollinate the plant.

Bee numbers are in severe decline for several factors. The main element is the pesticides they come in contact with on Almond groves.

When Are Almonds Harvested?

Almond harvesting typically occurs from August through October in California.

Almond farmers with a relatively large orchard utilize mechanical tree shakers to get the almond fruits to fall to the ground. They know the tree is suitable for picking by checking whether the outer husk has dried and split.

The farmers ensure not to only check at eye level as the drupes start to fall from the tree. A safe bet is to begin harvesting when 70-80% of the drupes have started to split.

The almonds are harvested either of two ways; manually or mechanically. When harvesting manually, you strike the nuts from the thin tree branches with a long stick or pole.

Then, when harvesting mechanically, you shake them from the tree with a specialized tree-shaking machine on wheel tracks. They are left to dry in the hot summer sun for seven to ten days. Finally, they are organized into rows and taken for processing.

What Do They Do With Almond Fruit?

The almond tree’s fruit offers a wide range of health benefits. One is lowering blood cholesterol levels due to their high fibre, protein, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin E, and potassium content. 

Almonds also play a significant role in blood pressure regulation and reducing the chances of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle.

Also, people tend to grow almond trees for aesthetic reasons, as the tree makes a pretty flowering tree for gardens.

Citations used in this article

  1. Almond Tree guide: How to plant and grow an almond tree (masterclass.com).
  2. U.S Almonds: A global leader in sustainability (almonds.com)
  3. 2025 goals: Committed to continuous improvement (the sustainabilityalliance.us.com)