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queen of the country, Phyllis. He won her heart, and became her husband; but scarcely were they united, when the death of his father recalled Demophoon to Athens, and he left Phyllis, promising to return to her in a month. When the given time had expired, the unfortunate queen wandered daily on the seashore, looking in vain for her Demophoon; and when, at last, winter came, and still he returned not, after gazing some time upon the sea, in an agony of despair, she fell
dead on the shore, and was changed by the pitying gods into an almondtree. Demophoon shortly after returned; and, being told what had occurred, flew to the tree, and clasped it in his arms, when the strong attachment of Phyllis, unable even then to restrain himself, caused the tree, though bare of leaves, to butst forth into blossoms."
Virgil, in his “Georgics,” welcomes the almond, when profusely covered with flowers, as the sign of a fruitful season.
Soil, Situation, foc. The Amygdalus communis does not prosper unless the soil be dry, sandy, or calcareous, and of considerable depth; but all the varieties will succeed well in any free soil, that is not too moist, when grafted or inoculated on stocks of the domestic cultivated plum, and perhaps on those of the Prunus americana. The situation should be sheltered, on account of the liability of the branches to be broken off by high winds. In Britain, plants of the almond are seldom raised from nuts, but are generally propagated by budding or grafting. In France, it is much grown by nurserymen as a stock to graft the apricot and the peach upon.
For this purpose, a vigorous-growing variety of the sweet almond is preferred near Paris, instead of a bitter variety, which was formerly employed. The kernels are sown in rows, in March, with the sharp ends downwards, and the plants are budded the following August. The great advantage of these stocks to the nurseryman is, that, as they may be budded the very first year of their growth on the spot where they are sown, à grafted tree may be obtained with them at the least possible expense. As the almond, however, sends down a taproot, exceeding two feet in length the first season, it has been found that such a tree, when taken up for sale, has few fibres, and, consequently, but little chance of growing. From this circumstance originated the practice of germinating the nuts in boxes of earth before sowing them, and pinching off the point of the radicle when about an inch in length, which causes it to throw out numerous horizontal roots (a very ingenious practice, which might be applied with advantage in many similar cases.) This mode of germinating the nuts also insures the nurseryman of having plants the first season after sowing, whereas, when it is not done, the seeds often lie in the ground two years. Plants will grow four or five feet the first year. The fruit is chiefly produced on the young wood of the previous year, or on the spurs of older wood. Almond-trees are seldom good bearers, even in France, where the fruit is cultivated as an article of commerce. A tree is considered there, on an average, only to produce a crop once in five years. It requires but little pruning, except when fruit of a large size is desired, or the duration of the tree is wished to be prolonged.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the almond-tree is hard, and of a reddish colour; and that taken from near the roots, in some respects, resembles that of lignum-vitæ (Guaicum officinale.) It is susceptible of a fine polish; but the resin which it contains, impedes its colouration by acids. At all times it takes varnish well, and in this respect differs from the lignum-vitæ, which takes it bad. It differs again, from this last-named wood, in being dryer and more brittle. It is used in cabinet-making, especially for veneering; and is employed to make handles for carpenter and joiner's tools. The leaves of this tree are said to make an excellent forage for sheep and goats, and to fatten the former in a very short time; but it should always be mixed with other provender. The leaves are also employed, in common with those of the peach and nectarine, for giving a flavour to gin, whisky, and other spirits. The gum, which exudes from this tree, is used for the same purposes as that of the cherry, and the gum Arabic, though it is not so easily dissolved in water as the last-mentioned kind. An oil is obtained, both from bitter and sweet almonds, by maceration and expression. A liquid is also distilled from the bitter variety, which, from the quantity of prussic acid it contains, is found to be poisonous to animals. An essential oil is obtained from the expressed oil, by distillation, which is one of the most virulent poisons known. It is a singular fact, that the seeds of the bitter and the sweet almond should differ so essentially in their chemical compositions; the kernels of the bitter variety contain the deleterious principle of prussic acid, which does not exist in those of the sweet variety, although found in its bark, leaves, and flowers. On triturating almonds with water, the oil and water unite together by the mediation of albuminous matter of the kernel, and form a milky liquor, called an emulsion. The sweet almonds alone should be employed for this purpose, as the bitter ones impart their peculiar flavour. Several unctuous and resinous substances, that of themselves will not combine with water, may, by trituration with almonds, he easily mixed into the form of an emulsion; and are thus admirably adapted to pharmaceutical purposes. The Parisian milk-dealers, a few years since, resorted to the practice of adulterating their milk by means of almond emulsion. The method was so simple and cheap, that for one fifth of a dollar, the opacity and colour of milk could be imparted to nearly four gallons of water, and so far secret that no disagreeable taste was communicated to the milk; and the only corrective required was a little sugar-candy, to remove the flat taste. In domestic economy, sweet almonds, as well as the common sort, are used as a dessert, in the husk, imperfectly ripe, and also in a ripe state, with or without the husks. A preserve is also made of green almonds. After they are ripe, they are frequently brought to table without the shell, and sometimes blanched, by depriving the kernel of the thick, wrinkled skin, in which it is enveloped, by keeping them a few minutes in scalding-hot water. The kernels are much used in cookery, confectionary, and perfumery, on account of their agreeable flavour. The almond harvest takes place in the south of Europe towards the end of summer. Those which fall naturally from the tree are the largest and the best. They are first collected together, and spread out in a granary or some other convenient place, to dry, until their husks are opened, from which they are separated, and suffered to remain exposed to the air for several days more. They are then put up in sacks, casks, or boxes, where they are preserved, as free as possible from humidity, until they are exposed for sale.
Almonds forin an extensive article of commerce, and may be distinguished under the following names and qualities :
1. Amandes à la dame, of the French. This kind is known by their large, thick-furrowed shells, rounded at one end and pointed at the other. They are packed up with the external shell on, in canvass bags, with chopped straw or chaff.
2. Amandes à la princesse, (French,) are of a medium size, and of an excellent quality. Their shells are flat, thin, tender, of a yellowish colour, and are sometimes covered with a dust, which readily soils the fingers when slightly handled. They are packed up with the shells on, in canvass bags.
3. Amandes de Chinon, so called from the town of Chinon, in France, where they grow. This sort is of a medium size, with thick, flat, elongated shells, of a yellowish-brown, and wrinkled appearance. The pellicle which covers the kernels is very thin, and is charged with a very adhesive powder, that cannot be rubbed off with the fingers without some pain. They are deprived of their shells, and packed up in canvass bags.
4. Amandes dures, French. This kind is smaller and more convex than any
of the preceding, and may be known by their thick, solid shells, of a pale-yellow colour, are difficult to break, and are marked by deep furrows. The kernels are also smaller than any of the preceding, are of a yellowish-brown colour, and sweet in their flavour. They are usually packed up in canvass bags, with the shells on.
5. Amandes de Milhaud, (French) distinguished by their long, flat kernels, covered with a thin pellicle, of a dirty-yellow colour, and charged with a powder which easily comes off by rubbing. They are deprived of their shells, and packed in canvass bags.
6. Amandes de Provence (sweet.) The kernels of the kind known under this name, in France, are very unequal in size, and may be distinguished, in general, by their blonde colour and slightly round form. They are sometimes covered with a reddish powder, and at others have a wrinkled or furrowed appearancé. Among the Provence almonds, there are also known two other kinds, one of which, (Amandes triées à la main,) are selected with great care, having kernels of a uniform size, pale-yellow colour, rather flat, and of a regular form; and the other kind (flots de Provence) much resemble them, except in being rather larger in size, longer, and more convex, with a thicker pellicle, of a reddish colour. They are deprived of their shells, and are usually packed in straw or chaff, in canvass bags.
7. Spanish Almonds. Those from Valencia are very sweet, large, and flatpointed at one extremity, and compressed in the middle. Those from Malaga, sometimes known under the name of Jordan Almonds, are of a medium size, paleyellow colour, and of a very agreeable flavour. They are larger, flatter, less pointed at one end, and less round at the other, than the preceding. They are deprived of their shells, and packed up in mats.
8. Italian Almonds. These are not so sweet, are smaller, and less depressed in the middle than those from Valencia.
9. Bitter Almonds. This variety, as known in commerce, chiefly comes from Mogadore, and is packed in boxes.
LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.
DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
Don, Miller's Dictionary.
Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
BRITAIN, ANGLO-AMERICA, &c. Engravings. Du Hamel, Traité des Arbres et Arbustes, 1,2–8; Noisette, Jardin Fruitier; Hoffy's, Orchardist's Companion ; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vi., pl. 106; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Covering of the nut very fleshy and juicy, its surface downy or smooth ; nut with wrinkled furrows. Young leaves folded flatwise. Flowers almost sessile, solitary or twin, protruded before the leaves.-Loudon, Arboretum.
“And apples, which most barbarous Persia sent,
ing in a natural state, is rather a small tree, with wide-spreading branches, and assumes the general form and character of the almond; but when cultivated, it sometimes attains a height of twenty or thirty feet, with a trunk fifteen to eighteen inches in diameter. Like its congener, the almond, its flowers appear before the leaves. They are of a very delicate colour, but of scarcely any scent. They usually appear in England early in April; at St. Mary's, in Georgia, by the middle of February; at Perth Amboy, in New Jersey, by the end of April
, and ten weeks earlier at Naples, in Italy, although the two last-named places are in nearly the same parallels of latitude. The fruit is roundish, with a furrow along one side, and is covered with a delicate, downy cuticle, when ripe.
Varieties. The varieties of the peach are exceedingly numerous, there being several hundred kinds enumerated in nurserymen's catalogues. The nectarine is considered by some botanists as a distinct species; but there can be no doubt on this point, as the peach itself is nothing more than an improved, or fleshy almond, which bears a similar relation to the peach and nectarine, as the crab does to the apple, and the sloe to the plum. To prove that the peach and nectarine are essentially the same, it may be mentioned that the fruits of both have been found on the same branch; and even an instance is recorded, where a fruit had the smooth surface of the nectarine on one side, and the downy skin of the peach on the other. Peaches may be distinguished into two general classes, namely, those which separate easily from the stone or nut, called freestones, and those, the flesh of which adheres to the shell of the stone, and are called clingstones. This species being most frequently raised from seeds, it is easy to conceive that the fruit must be of an endless variety, scarcely two trees producing alike. Hence it would be useless even to attempt an enumeration of them. The following variations, however, are widely different, in respect to some of their characters, and may be described as follows:
1. A. P. LÆVIS. Smooth-skined Peach, or Nectarine-tree. Of this variety there are two sorts, one with the fruit parting from the stone, (Pêche lisse, French,) and the other with the flesh adhering to it (Brugnon, French.) As a standard in the open garden, it forms a smaller and more delicate tree than that of the peach. In dissecting the flowers of the nectarine, the germs may readily be distinguished from those of the peach, in being smooth and shining, while those of the latter are always villous, or covered with fine hairs.
2. A. P. FLORE PLENO. Double-flowered Peach-tree. This variety may readily be distinguished by its double flowers. It is also of less vigorous growth than most of the single-flowered varieties.
3. A. P. ALBA. White-flowered Peach-tree, known by its pure-white blossoms. 4. A. P. POLIIS VARIEGATIS. Variegated-leaved Peach-tree.
5. A. P. COMPRESSA. Flat-fruited Peach, a native of China, and is chiefly remarkable for the form of its fruit, and for being nearly evergreen in its leaves.
6. A. P. SALIGNA. Willow-leaved Peach-tree. This tree is described by Mr. Royle in his " Illustrations of the Botany, and other branches of Natural History of the Himalayan Mountains," as growing in the district of Bissehur, and is called there, by the natives, bhemee. The fruit, though small, is represented to be juicy and very sweet.
Geography and History. It is not certain in what part of the globe the peachtree was originally produced; for, although we have early accounts of its being brought to Europe from Persia, it does not follow, from thence, that it was one of the natural productions of that country. Pliny relates that it had been stated to have possessed venomous qualities, and that its fruit was sent into Egypt by the kings of Persia, by way of revenge, to poison the natives; but he treats this story as a mere fable, and considers it the most harmless fruit in the world ; that it had the most juice, and the least smell of any fruit, and yet caused thirst to those who ate of it. He expressly states that it was imported by the Romans from Persia; but whether it was indigenous to that country, or sent thither from a region still nearer to the equator, we have no information. He adds that it was not long since peaches were known in Rome, and that there was great difficulty in rearing them. He also informs us that this tree was brought from Egypt to the isle of Rhodes, where it could never be made to produce fruit; and from thence to Italy. He says, moreover, that it was not a common fruit either in Greece or Natolia. No mention, however, is made of it by Cato. Pownall, in his “Roman Provinces,” makes it a Phocæan importation to Marseilles; and evidently it was cultivated in France at an early period, as Columella, in his account of this fruit, says:
" Those of small size to ripen make great haste;
And season, not too early, nor too late." The peach is said to have been first cultivated in Britain about the middle of the XV1th century. Gerard describes several varieties of it as growing in his garden, in 1597. Tusser mentions it in his list of fruits in 1557; and in all probability, it was introduced when the Romans had possession of that country.