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Almond

Almond (ä' mŭnd), A species of Prunus, a genus of the rose family. The almond is very old in cultivation, and is probably a native of the Mediterranean region. The two races of almonds are known as the "bitter" and the "sweet," the kernel of the former being used in the manufacture of flavoring extracts and of prussic acid. The sweet almonds, with their edible kernels, are grouped under two heads: those with hard shells and those with soft shells. The almond of commerce belongs to the soft-shelled group, and those with the thinnest shells are known as "paper shells." The commercial cultivation of the almond in the United States is confined to the west, chiefly California. A large part of the almonds used in this country comes from Italy, France and Spain. A native almond is found in southern California, a low bushy shrub with a small, smooth nut. Both the almond and the dwarf almond of southern Russia are used as ornamental trees, planted in places not favorable for the production of the nut.