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The almond tree (Amygdalus communis L.) is from the area between the Aegean Sea and the Middle-West Asia. In the V century B.C. it was brought into Sicily by the Phoenicians, coming from Greece; in fact, the Romans called the almond “Greek walnut”. Afterwards it spread also in France, Spain and in all the Mediterranean Countries. Finally, it was brought in America in the XVI century by the Spanish.

flowering almond trees   almonds tree flowers   almond   Sicilian barrow and curled cakes

In Italy, there are three different subspecies of almonds tree: the “sativa” species, characterised by a sweet kernel in hard shell; the “amara” species, whose bitter taste is due to the presence of amygdaline; the “fragilis” species, with sweet kernel in brittle shell. The blossoming is somewhat precocious and takes place between January and March. The flowers’ colour is white or lightly pink. The almond-piching takes place between August and September. After drying the almonds in the open air, the exocarp is removed and the almond are dehydrated.

The ancient Greeks told that Phyllis, a Thracian princess, meet Acamas, the son of Theseus on the occasion of a stay during the voyage towards Troy. They fell in love but Acamas was obliged to continue his journey with the Achaei to fight the war of Troy. Ten years later, the princess, convinced that Acamas had been killed, killed herself in desperation. Touched by this sad love story, the goddess Athena decided to turn Phyllis into a beautiful almond tree. But Acamas hadn’t been killed and, when he found out that Phyllis had been turned into a tree, he embraced the plant which, to return the caresses, let burst flowers out branches rather then leaves. The embrace recurs even years, when the almond flowers announce the springtime. In February, the Agrigentins celebrate the so-called “Almond Blossom Festival”. History, art and folklore merge harmoniously in the blossoming of the almond tree. 

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