Almond The almond (Prunus amygdalis var. dulcis), sometimes called the sweet almond, is one of the oldest nut crops. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia but is now grown more widely, including in southern Europe, Africa, southern Australia, and California. It is closely related to peaches and plums, but in the almond, in contrast to these other fruits, the 'flesh' or mesocarp becomes hard and dry as it matures, and splits open to leave the thin shell or endocarp which contains the edible almond seed or 'nut.' The nuts are eaten fresh, often in the ground form in prepared dishes, as well as roasted and salted.

Another species, Prunus amara or the bitter almond, is inedible but is cultivated for its oil, which is also present in the sweet almond and in the kernels of apricots and peaches. This oil contains benzaldehyde, the essential oil, and hydrocyanic acid, from which the benzaldehyde is separated to be used in flavorings and perfumes.

Brazil nut The triangular-shaped Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) grows in large forests in the Amazon river basin in South America. The nuts are

Table 1 Major types of nuts and seeds grown for human consumption




Pine nuts






Pumpkin seeds


Sesame seeds


Sunflower seeds


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