Bitter Almond Biological Sources, Morphology, Chemical Constituents, Adulterants and Uses

Bitter Almond Biological Sources, Morphology, Chemical Constituents, Adulterants and Uses

Bitter Almond

Synonym:- Amygdala amara.

Biological source:-

It consists of dried ripe seeds of plant Prunus amygdalus Batsch var amara.

Family:- Rosaceae.

Geographical source:-

It is indigenous to Iran and Asia and cultivated in Sicily, Italy, Protugal, Morocco and South France.

Cultivation and Collection:

  • The almond trees require hot and dry climate. They do not tolerate wet soils and frosts. They are sun-loving trees and flowers well in full sunlight. Although they can tolerate partial shade but could not flower or fruit.
  • They require well-drained, deep loamy soil. They need sufficient rainfall around 500-600 mm or irrigation to produce better yields and well-filled nuts. They can also survive with less water.
  • They especially benefited from irrigation in early spring, during summer and sometimes during the first months of autumn. Almonds are generally not self-pollinating.
  • Generally cross-pollination with another variety is required for better quality fruit production.
  • The distance should be kept around 4 to 6 meter in between two plants.
  • Before planting, the roots should be watered.
  • The dugged out hole should be deep enough for the whole root system.
  • The root should not be bent in shape.
  • Like many nut trees, almonds are especially sensitive to tampering with their tap root, so they should never be trimmed or forced into a hole not big enough to accommodate it.
  • The nuts should be dried well before consumption.
  • This can be done by leaving them on the ground for a few days after shaking them or stored safely at dried place.
  • The average healthy and mature almond tree can produce nearly 23-30 kg of nuts per tree.

Macroscopy Characters:-

  • Colour:- Brown.
  • Odour:- None.
  • Taste:- Bitter.
  • Size:- 20 mm length, 120 mm width and 10 mm thickness.
  • Shape:- Flat, Oblong, Ovoid having marks on testa.

Chemical Constituents:-

Bitter almond contains fixed oil (40-50 percent), Protein (20 percent), enzyme emulsin and bitter glycoside amygdalin (1-3 percent). It also contains volatile oil (0.5 percent). Amygdalin gives benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid upon hydrolysis. Bitter almond oil contains 80 percent benzaldehyde and 2-6 percent hydrocyanic acid.

Chemical Tests:-

1. Ferriferrocyanide Test:-1 g of the powdered drug macerated with 5 ml of alcoholic KOH (5% w/v) for five minutes. Then transfer it to an aqueous solution which contain ferrous sulphate (2.5% w/v) and ferric chloride (1% w/v). Maintain the temperature at 60-70°C for 10 minutes. Now, transfer the contents to hydrochloric acid (20%), appearance of a distinct prussian blue colour confirms the presence of HCN. 2. Grignard Reaction Test:- Dip a strip of white filter paper into a solution of picric acid (1 % w/v in water) and drain it and then dip into a solution of sodium carbonate (10% w/v in water) and again drain it. Place the crushed and moistened drug material in a small Erlenmeyer flask. Subsequently place the strip of the prepared sodium picrate paper above the material. Maintain the flask warm for about 1 hour. The liberated HCN will turn the sodium picrate paper original yellow colour to brick red colour (due to the formation of sodium isopurpurate).


It is used as sedative. The oil is used in skin lotion as demulcent. It is also used for the preparation of amygdalin, bitter almond water, in perfume industry and liquors preparation, due to the presence of hydrocyanic acid it is not used as flavoring agent in food industry.


1. Bitter Almond belong to family 

A. Liliaceae

B. Rosaceae

C. Solanaceae

D. Gentiaceae

2. Which is synonym of Bitter Almond ?

A. Aam

B. Amygdala

C. Amara

D. Amygdala amara

3.  Which type of soil is required for Bitter Almond ?

A. Sandy soil

B. Clay soil

C. Sillt soil

D. Loamy soil

4. How many nuts produces by one tree of Bitter Almond ?

A. 23-30 kg

B. 30-40 kg

C. 45-60 kg

D. 70- 80 kg

5. Which of the following is specific test for Bitter Almond ?

A. Gold Beater Test

B. Vitali Morrin Test

C. Grignard Reaction Test

D. Salkowaski Reaction

6. Which of the following is not use of Bitter Almond ?

A. Sedative

B. Ink

C. Lotion

D. Perfume

7. Match Of The following for Bitter Almond

i. Fixed Oil     A. 20%

ii. Volatile oil  B.1-3%

iii. Protein       C.0.5%

iv enzyme        D. 40-50%

A. i→C ii→A iii →B iv→D

B.i→A ii→ B iii→C iv→D

C.i→B ii→C iii→D iv→A

D.i→ D ii→C iii →A iv→B

8.  Amygdalin which present in Bitter almond, which type of byproducts it give? 

A. Benzaldehyde

B. Hydrocyanic

C. A and B

D. None of the above

9. How many percentage of hydrocyanic is present in bitter almond ?

A. 80%

B. 70%

C. 2.5%

D. 3.5%

10. Which of the following is false sentence about Bitter Almond?

A. Bitter Almond has brown colour.

B. Bitter Almond has bitter taste.

C. Bitter Almond has 20 mm length, 120 mm width and 10 mm thickness.

D. Bitter Almond has 10 mm length, 100 mm width and 15 mm thickness.

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Answer Key :-

1. B

2. D

3. D

4. A

5. C

6. B

7. D

8. C

9. C

10. D

Reference :-

16 Edition of Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy Text Book ( Pg. No. :- 347 ) This information is taken only for education purpose.

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