Different Almond Tree Varieties

Almond trees (Prunus amygdalus or Prunuus dulcis), produce one of the world’s mostly widely grown and oldest nuts. These trees grow in temperate regions and belong to the rose family. They resemble the peach tree, producing white or pink flowers in early spring. Their dry leathery fruit surround the almond nut. Although there are two main kinds of almonds, there’s only one type that is edible.

Bitter Almonds

The bitter almond tree (Amygdalus communis, var. amara) is a variation of the sweet almond tree. It has somewhat larger flowers and nearly white-tipped petals that darken into a rose color at the base. This tree produces bitter almonds which should not be consumed, although the oil is used as a flavoring agent. These almonds contain prussic acid, a dangerous toxin, and are mainly grown for extracting almond oil. They have roughly 50 percent of the same oil found in sweet almonds and are starch free. Of the several bitter almond varieties, the best varieties come from south of France, with others originating from Sicily and Northern Africa (Barbary) where the bitter almond is a staple trade item.

Sweet Almonds

Sweet almond (Amygdalus communis or Amygdalus dulcis) trees produce almonds that are safe to eat. This type of almond tree blooms earlier than the bitter almond tree and is more largely cultivated.. Sweet almonds are valuable food sources and used for baking and in medicine. These trees yield a fruit rich in bland oil that’s nutritious. The sweet almonds variety has been tested in both animals and humans, although its effectiveness and safety hasn’t been always proven. Some medical values are believed to be linked with sweet almonds, which include improving cholesterol and for treating anxiety. It’s also used in radiation skin therapy purposes, according to Wellness.com.

Standard Varieties

There are five main types of standard sweet almond trees.

  • Carmel almond trees produce an almond with an excellent quality, with their nuts well-sealed within the shell. According to the University of California, this variety is an excellent pollenizer, meaning the tree provides pollen.
  • Mission almonds are productive trees that bloom late and produce hard shelled nuts with short kernels.
  • Nonpareil almond trees turn out the most popular of the paper shelled varieties and are inter-fruitful with Mission, Price and Carmel almonds.
  • Price almond trees are similar to nonpareils and are good pollenizers.
  • The Ne plus ultra almond tree produces large, soft-shelled nuts and is another good pollenizer.

Finally, be sure to enjoy both the experience of planting your almond tree, as well as picking off almonds and then eating them. While some people grow almond trees for eating the tree’s nuts, others just enjoy them for the cosmetic quality they add to a landscape. Regardless of the reason for planting an almond tree, many gardeners have reaped the rewards of cultivating these trees.… Read the rest

How to Prune Meyer Lemon Trees

The Meyer lemon pygmy tree was named after Frank Meyer, who imported it to the United States from China in 1908. Until 1940 the trees were grown throughout America. Meyer lemons were then banned because they caught a virus. A new strain of Meyer lemons was introduced in 1970. Since this time they have become a common homegrown, lemon choice.

The trees are smaller than most lemon trees, making them easier to grow indoors, on a balcony or in a small space. They provide an abundant crop of thin skinned, waxy lemons. Follow these step-by-step instruction to get the best crop from your lemon trees.

How to Prune a Meyer Lemon Tree

  1. Check your tree for dead or damaged branches and leaves. Dead branches will feel hollow. Damaged branches may have, lumps, fungi or blemishes on them. Cut all the damaged and dead branches from the tree. Cut the branches off at a slight angle where they are joined to the tree. Clean your sheers with a disinfectant spray to prevent contamination of other branches with fungi or disease.
  2. Cut off any light or thin branches. Check near the base of the tree for suckers. These will be areas of bright green leaves, growing between the soil and the graft site. The graft sight is the area where the Meyor lemon was grafted. It is a visible, vertical mark near the root of the tree. If you leave the suckers on they will grow quickly, and will drain the energy of the plant.

Shaping the Crown of the Tree

  1. Remove some of the weight from the top of the tree so light can penetrate through the branches. Just remove the odd branch that is underneath the top section, and is heavy with leaf and sticks. If the top of the tree is too thick, the lemons will struggle to ripen and develop.
  2. Cut straggly, unruly branches that are spoiling the overall shape, and growth of the tree. Decide whether you want to cut the tree back severely, due to space restrictions or, whether you want to just shape it and leave it with the same overall size. If you want to severely prune the tree, cut each branch, just above a joint. Cut them off at an angle. Continue to cut back the tree until it is a suitable size and shape for its surroundings.

Some people choose to cut the tree right back to the base branches. Other people encourage the trees to grow to their full potential, and minimally prune.… Read the rest

How to Identify Red Berries on Vines and Trees

Nature has given us a wide variety of vines that produce berries and it is very common to see birds and animals eating these berries as winter food. Because there are so many varieties of red berry it can be hard to identify them, especially in the winter months when many vines have lost their leaves. But don’t despair; using your powers of observation and your cell phone’s camera you can begin the process of identifying any red berry that interests you.

Check the Source

First you need to know whether the berries are found on a tree, a shrub, or on a vine. While this might seem obvious, sometimes red berries stand out in a clump of shrubbery so dense that it seems impossible to determine which plant they are on. Take some time to isolate the berries and figure out what type of shrub they grow on.

Look at the Leaves

Check to see if there are any leaves left on the vine. Some vines keep their leaves all winter long. If there are no live leaves, check to see if there are any dried leaves still clinging to the vine.

Notice the size, shape, and color of the leaf. Are the edges serrated or smooth? Is each leaf single or are there two or more leaves on a single stem? Is the leaf fuzzy or smooth?

If there are no leaves, look at the vine, shrub, or tree itself. How big is it? Does it have thorns? Is the main branch twisted or straight? Is the bark smooth or textured? If textured, is it bumpy, or ridged? Is the bark rough and dry or is it supple? Make a careful note of all the different characteristics of the plant itself.

Check the Color, Size, and Shape of the Berries

Next you need to look carefully at the size and shape of the berry. Is it round, oval, or disproportionate? Are the berries smooth or are they made up of clusters of smaller seeds, like a blackberry? Do the berries grow together in a cluster or is there a single berry on the end of a stem? Sometimes rose hips or dried cherries can be mistaken for berries, so pay close attention.

Now, decide on the berries’ exact color. Of course, they are red, but what shade of red? It can make all the difference in the world to a proper identification. When deciding on a shade, It helps to think of something to compare it to. Are the berries a deep blood-red like a garnet? Are they an orange-red, similar to a tomato? Are they a cherry-red, or are they more of a pink-red like a rose bud? Carefully note the shade of red you decide is the closest to the berries you’re trying to identify.

Note the

You will want to pay attention to the location of the plant as well. is it growing near other plants of the same type or does it seem to … Read the rest

Growing Hibiscus Trees – Yellow Leaves on a Hibiscus

Hibiscus plants are common garden plants that can also be grown indoors. Many gardeners like hibiscus because they are hardy plants, and many varieties of the hibiscus can survive colder weather. Identify problems with a hibiscus plant as soon as possible and make sure that the plant is treated for any issues. Yellow leaves on a hibiscus can point to several problems, and treating them as soon as they are diagnosed will help the hibiscus return to health.

Causes of Yellow Leaves on Hibiscus Trees

Check the hibiscus plant for signs of pest damage, include insects and fungal problems. Indoor hibiscus plants are susceptible to mites, which can sap nutrients from the plant and turn the leaves yellow. Fungal problems can turn the leaves yellow and leave spots on the leaves or stems of the plant.

Issues with the amount of water the hibiscus receives can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. As the plant grows and the seasons change, the amount of water requires to keep the tree healthy varies. Too much or too little water will cause the leaves to yellow or drop.

Pest and Fungus Problems of Hibiscus

Apply a fungicide or pesticide to the hibiscus plant if any pests or fungi are found. This will help control the problem and restore the hibiscus plant to health. The best pesticides to use for hibiscus are insecticidal soaps that can be applied to the leaves and stems of the plant to control pest problems.

Remove any leaves affected by fungal problems to stop the fungus from spreading to the rest of the plant or other plants. Dispose of the affected leaves immediately. If the hibiscus has fungal problems, use a fungicide that is formulated specifically for the type of fungus affecting the plant.

Where to Grow Hibiscus Plants – Yellow Leaves on Hibiscus

Change the location of the hibiscus plant if it is in a planter. Hibiscus plants kept in full shade are not able to process nutrients properly and may have yellow leaves. Hibiscus trees that are in full sunlight can become scorched and dried out. Move the hibiscus to an area where it receives partial sunlight to help keep it healthy.

Use a balanced, time-release fertilizer that can be applied to the soil every two months. The proper amount of fertilizer will help keep the hibiscus healthy and prevent its leaves from turning yellow. Water-soluble fertilizers can also be used, although these need more frequent application.

How to Water a Hibiscus With Yellow Leaves

Alter the amount of water the hibiscus receives. Both too much and too little water can cause the plant to become stressed, which can result in yellowing leaves. Make sure the soil is draining properly. The soil around the hibiscus should be moist, but not saturated with water.

Water the plant only enough to keep the top portion of the soil moist if the leaves are yellowing in the fall. The plant is attempting to become dormant and requires less water; … Read the rest

Welwitschia Mirabilis: African Tree Lives 2,000 Years

The Welwitschia mirabilis is variously called a plant or a small tree, although many botanists consider it a dwarf tree related to the pine. Though it is grown on other continents today, it is believed to have originated in Africa. It is found in a narrow area of the the Namib Desert in southwestern Africa for about 600 to 700 miles or 1,000 kilometers from near the Kuiseb River in central Namibia to the city of Mossamedes in southwestern Angola.

It’s Edible; How It Survives Harsh Environments

Belonging to the Welwitschiaceae family, the Welwitschia is sometimes eaten by humans, who more often than not eat part of the female tree either raw or after it has been cooked in ashes. The elephant, zebra, rhinoceros, oryx and springbok are among the animals that eat it. The typical tree grows to about 500 millimeters or 19.69 inches tall. The tallest Welwitschia on record was found in Namibia and measured 1.8 meters or 70.87 inches in height.

But, in general, it’s not height that marks the Welwitschia’s appearance but its broad,stubby look. Its leaves droop down, and as time passes, the dusty and windy conditions of its environment may put some rips in the leaves even though they remain more or less immovable. The broad leaves help to keep the tree’s soil moist and cool while also lessening soil erosion. Their bark is like cork.

A Cone-Bearing Plant with Deep Roots

Seeds from the tree sprout only in heavy rains and since the Welwitschia grows in arid and semi-arid environments, sometimes it’s a long time between rains. Fortunately, however, the seeds of the Welwitschia are hardy and can survive for years before heavy rains come to make them sprout. Heavy fog is essential to the Welwitschia. When the seeds do sprout, the fog of the areas where they grow gives them the moisture they need to exist until the next rains. The tree’s leaves have stomata or very small pores that absorb the fog’s moisture.

The Welwitschia is a cone-bearer with separate male and female cones. The female cones are larger than the male cones, which flower. The flowers on the male cones produce pollen to pollinate the female trees with the help of an insect called probergrothiussexpunctalis. A female Welwitschia can easily produce 10,000 seeds. In the spring, the female cones release seeds, which are carried by the wind. The tree’s roots can go down into the ground as much as 30 meters or 98 feet. It also has side roots.


Discovery by Europeans

The Austrian botanist Friedrich Welwitsch first saw the plant in the Namib Desert in Angola in 1859. Three years later he brought it to the attention of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (England). Hooker named the plant after Welwitsch. Mirabilis means marvelous in Latin. Even though the species name was changed to bainesii, it never caught on so the term mirabilis is still used today.

It has been written that Welwitsch preferred … Read the rest