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Siberian almonds  RSS feed

 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 208
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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Hi Thomas,

In this thread http://www.permies.com/t/40580/plants/Primary-Plants-Questions-Thomas-Elpel you mentioned your Siberian almonds. I'd love to know more about them as the web search I did, didn't bring up anything useful. It looks like you are in the same hardiness zone as I am, though I probably get more rain.

Thanks for joining us at Permies.com! I look forward to reading your book.
 
David Livingston
master steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I would be interested too , have you its latin name as I will be trying to buy this in France.

David
 
Thomas Elpel
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Location: Pony, Montana
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The dwarf Siberian almond is Prunus tenella:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_tenella

I order a lot of shrubs and trees through Lawyer Nursery (Montana/Washington). They are a wholesale supplier, but they accept orders from anyone for a minimum of $250, I think, plus shipping. They don't have as many natives or fruits as I would like, but they do have many interesting trees and shrubs, often for a buck or two per tree:

http://www.lawyernursery.com/

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com


 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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http://www.lawyernursery.com/productinfo.aspx?productSpecies=Prunus%20tenella

These are wild seedling, which are probably 95% bitter almond aka poisonous.
They are pretty cheap, so someone could do a cultivar selection program.

I do know of a Canadian vendor who has done a bit of selection and offers "sweet" Siberian almond.
 
Thomas Elpel
author
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Location: Pony, Montana
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Dale,

Living in Montana, especially east of the continental divide, has a way of reducing expectations.

As a child I lived in California and had several wonderful apricot trees in the yard. Here in Montana, I live at 5,600' on the dry side of a hill with sandy soil, and I have several hardy apricot trees that are more-or-less adapted to the climate. I once harvested six small apricots from a branch that was touching a stone wall, so the thermal mass kept those few blossoms from freezing. I do know of a productive apricot tree in a parking lot in Missoula (three hours west of here and much lower in elevation), which I like to raid when I can get the timing right. It probably takes four of these apricots to equal one of those from California. My apricot tree froze back after a serious winter storm in October a couple years back, but it is growing well again. I am hopeful that I might harvest a dozen or more apricots next year. We'll see!

In regards to the dwarf siberian almond, my planting criteria is simple: I'll plant just about anything that won't die on my land. My almonds are about three years old and two feet tall. I love the pink blossoms. Attached is a photo of a whole almond, along with the broken shell and nut meat. As you can see, the dime in the picture is significantly bigger! The almond has a typical bitter almond cyanide flavor. Almonds are in the same genus (Prunus) as cherries, plums, nectarines, apricots, and peaches. They all have an almond in the middle, and most are more worthwhile than the siberian almond.

Native Americans ground up whole chokecherries and dried the mashed cakes in the sun. The cakes are crunchy because of the crushed shells, however, they have the nutrition of both the fruit and the nut. And drying the cakes in the sun neutralizes the cyanide content, making them safe to eat, as detailed in the text and photos of Foraging the Mountain West.

Optionally, the nut can be extracted from any of the fruits mentioned above and used as an almond. They should be roasted or dried to destroy the cyanide content. See Foraging the Mountain West for details:

http://www.hopspress.com/Books/Foraging_The_Mountain_West.htm

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.GreenUniversity.com




Siberian_Almond.jpg
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Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I was hoping to see if it compared to a silver dollar, not a dime.

So, can the cyanide in peaches, apricots etc. be neutralized easily ? They grow a decent sized seed,especially older varieties. No need to breed the stone out if they can be rendered useful.
 
Thomas Elpel
author
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Location: Pony, Montana
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Dale,

Yeah, siberian almonds are not quite silver dollar sized!

Yes, cyanide in Prunus pits can be neutralized easily. However, keep in mind that the pits will have a bitter almond flavor. Here is an excerpt about that from Foraging the Mountain West:

"You can experiment with processing and eating the fruits and/or nuts from any species of this genus. However, be mindful that the nuts contain amygdalin, a glycoside that breaks down into benzaldehyde and cyanide. Benzaldehyde is the source of bitter almond flavor, often utilized in cooking. The degree of bitterness is a good indicator of the concentration of amygdalin in the raw nut.
Amygdalin, also known as laetrile or Vitamin B17, is considered beneficial in small doses. But excess consumption of amygdalin leads to cyanide poisoning. Adding to the name game, cyanide may be referred to in other texts as either prussic acid or hydrocyanic acid (its liquid form) or hydrogen cyanide (its gaseous form).

"Whatever the name, cyanide prevents cells from utilizing oxygen in the bloodstream, resulting in asphyxiation at the cellular level. A lethal dose is somewhere between twenty and fifty raw bitter almonds (a different variety from the sweet almonds we normally eat).

"Anything else in the genus is theoretically less bitter and less toxic than bitter almonds. A typical cherry pit, for example, contains only about .078 milligrams of cyanide, while the lethal dose of cyanide is between .5 to 3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. At that rate, it would take at least 500 raw cherry pits to kill a 180 lb. (80 kg) person, and even then, the seeds are more likely to pass through the gut intact. In any case, proper cooking, drying, and/or oxidation destroys the cyanide, making the pit ā€“ or rather the nut inside the pit ā€“ edible."

http://www.hopspress.com/Books/Foraging_The_Mountain_West.htm

Foraging_the_Mountain_West.jpg
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John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If anybody wants to try growing the Prunus tenella from seed, Schumacher Tree & Shrub Seeds has them. Their prices are competitive with anybody else.

They rate them hardy to zone 2.

Might be worthwhile for growing a hardy rootstock for any other Prunus projects you may have going on.

 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1281
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Here in Ladakh it is traditional to neutralize the cyanide in bitter apricot kernels by grinding and then boiling them. It takes an hour or two (or more) to boil off the amygdalin, and you have to be sure to boil it in a very well ventilated place, preferably outdoors, because the steam does indeed make you feel a bit weird, so I assume it could kill you if concentrated enough. Ideally, boil it in such a way as to maximise surface area. Keep it not very deep, in as wide a pan as you can, and stir or agitate it regularly. When the bitterness is entirely gone, the amygdalin (cyanide precursor) is gone. Here it's traditional to add onions and garlic and use it over heavy gnocchi-like pasta lumps that might include buckwheat flour, kind of like a peanut sauce. I've also made a delicious pudding by adding sugar and a pinch of salt.

Drying is not sufficient, or at least, drying in the shell does not reduce the amygdalin/cyanide. My late ex mother in law had dried her bitter seeds and taken them to have the oil expressed as she always did, and had left sacks of oilcake (residue from oil extraction) in the front corridor of the house. Two of her cows got into the courtyard, and, attracted by the delicious amaretto smell, entered the house and ate several bites of oilcake each. ...

It was difficult to get those huge bodies out the narrow front door. We ate a lottttt of beef that winter.

There are two varieties of apricot here that are the only named and grafted varieties in the area. They both have sweet fruit and a non-bitter, edible, harmless kernel, similar to but tastier than an almond.
 
Thomas Elpel
author
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Location: Pony, Montana
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Rebecca,

Great story. Thanks for sharing!

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Elpel
http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 1058
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Are there trees in Austrakia?? I cannot import anything prunus.
 
Simone Gar
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Location: Alberta, zone 3
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S Bengi wrote:http://www.lawyernursery.com/productinfo.aspx?productSpecies=Prunus%20tenella

These are wild seedling, which are probably 95% bitter almond aka poisonous.
They are pretty cheap, so someone could do a cultivar selection program.

I do know of a Canadian vendor who has done a bit of selection and offers "sweet"  Siberian almond.


Would you please share who the Canadian vendor is? I would be interested in the almond and maybe more. thanks!
 
Paul d'Aoust
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Simone, the Canadian breeder/supplier is Rhora's Nut Farm and Nursery in Ontario. They don't seem to have it listed on their website, but if you can get to Vancouver Island easily, Eco-Sense in North Saanich sells a cultivar from Rhora's that's sweet.
 
Paul d'Aoust
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Found the page on Rhora'sā€‹: http://www.nuttrees.com/specials
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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