Many flowering trees, both ornamental and orchard types, belong to the same diverse family of trees that bear stone fruits. Cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, almonds, and others are all members of this clan. Some are evergreen and others lose their leaves every fall. Some are small dwarf type shrubs and others are huge trees. While a large number of these trees are grown primarily for their fruit, many others are valued more for their ornamental qualities. These grace residential lawns and gardens with their lovely spring flowers and attractive shapes.
Two popular members of this group are the dwarf flowering almond, (Prunus glandulosa) and flowering almond (Prunus triloba). These shrubs (hardy in zones 4 through 8) are among the first flowering ornamentals in spring.
Size: While nut producing almond trees will grow as tall as 25 feet at maturity and spread approximately half that distance, the ornamental flowering almonds may reach only 5 to 8 feet tall and spread 3 to 8 feet, depending on the type. Both types have upright, thin dark brown stems. Those of the standard sized flowering almond gradually spread and become slightly pendulous as the shrub ages. The dwarf almond shrub is shaped more like a water goblet.
Foliage: Flowering almond leaves have an elongated oval shape and finely toothed edges. They may be from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, those of the dwarf flowering almond being only 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long. They are basically medium green, sometimes a grey green. Some varieties show a bit of autumn color, usually yellow. Almond foliage is deciduous, dropping in the fall.
Flowers: Ornamental almond trees bear flowers early in February or March before their leaves appear. The five-petal blooms may be either white or pink, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Some may be double. They range the length of the bare stems. The flowers of these ornamental trees give way to insignificant fruits.