The last pure-white
petals are being blown away one by one on the breeze, as if they were snowflakes.
We are almost
at the end of probably the most spectacular natural event that we can enjoy
every winter here, the splendid blooming of the almond tree.
For the last
two months they have sensitively covered and decorated our dry fields with an
intense explosion of the pure white or slightly pink petals of the almond tree
These days as
you take a walk in an almond tree plantation and see them all around falling
down, if it wasn't because of its nice sweet aroma, the temperature and the
shining sun, you would swear that you were in the middle of a snowstorm. When
you look at these plantations from the distance, at the right moment, it is
inevitable to compare them with the snow-white continental winter fields.
yearly event starts (more or less, depending on the weather conditions) with
the New Year (sometimes we can see the first flowers as a Christmas present)
and it reaches its peak in February's full moon. The Ibicencos say that February's
full moon, or what's the same, the almond-tree-flower-full-moon are the most
clear and bright nights of the year.
The ones who
have been lucky enough to see it know that this is very true. The almond trees,
with all the branches completely covered in flowers (the leaves will come after,
as soon as the tree loses the flowers) look like soft and white clouds that
reflect the moonlight of our clear and almost unpolluted winter sky.
In these conditions,
it is possible to spot a person walking in the fields by the countryside at
night without any artificial light, well over a kilometre away.
Because of this coincidence, the beauty of
the almond tree blooming, the full moon and the extreme peace and serenity of
this time of the year (this is the time of the year with less people on the
Island and the nerves of the tourist season are still "far"), make
of February's full moon the favourite and the most inspiring time for our poets
this magnificent event, a group of local poets and writers started about twelve
years ago to visit "Es Pla de Corona" (*) every February's
full moon night to party, play music and to read poetry that was especially
written for the occasion. Not surprisingly, the moon and the almond tree flowers
are normally the most important subjects.
This group of about twenty five or thirty
people at the beginning was increasing every year until reaching several hundreds
in a few years, becoming one of the most important and crowded popular events
of our winter nights and the most anticipated, especially for the intellectual
society of Eivissa.
For the first
five or six years, all the poetry written for the occasion and read by the authors
at these full-moon-and-petal-parties was edited and published in a yearly book
("A la llum dels ametllers," Quaderns de Literatura,
Consell Insular d'Eivissa i Formentera) by the "Conselleria de Cultura"
of the Local Government.
The almond tree's
been glorified by our most sensitive poets, but in my opinion there is still
something more that can be said and perhaps we would all like to know a little
bit more about the almond tree. Let's do it as a little homage to its graces.
amygdalus" Stokes, "Prunus communis", "Prunus
dulcis" and "Amygdalus communis"-Linné are the four
scientific names for this tree, a plant of the "Rosaceous family",
the same as the peach, apricot, pear, apple, cherry or the plum tree, as well
as the rose tree, the blackberry or the strawberry, as some of the most representative
plants of this large family.
The almond tree
is the largest of them all, at least in our Islands, where it can reach up to
ten metres or even more, with a thick and rough cracked trunk which can reach
more then two meters around it, though the common size is five to eight metres
high and a metre or less around the trunk. It is also the one that takes longest
to mature its fruits, eight months, from January till August-September.
It is originally
from the Middle East and Northern-African countries, where it can be found wild,
but it was spread and used in most of the Mediterranean countries even before
The almond tree
doesn't tolerate very low temperatures, as it blossoms in the beginning of the
winter. Even here it can lose its future fruits if the temperature drops enough
for us to have frost, the ice can dry and kill the flower or the new-born almond
in two or three nights, so this fact limits its spread to the Mediterranean
countries and more recently other areas in different Continents with similar
weather conditions, such as California, USA, Viña del Mar, Chile, South-Africa,
There are two
different kinds of almond trees, the bitter and the sweet, each one of them,
especially the sweet, with quite a few different varieties.
is the one we use for planting, because of its adaptability, stronger resistance
and faster growing. We plant it in the autumn from a bitter almond. Two or three
years later, the new plant will be removed to its defined location and engrafted
with the graft of whatever variety of sweet almond tree wanted.
The bitter almonds
used to be sold to the pharmaceutical industry to produce bitter-almond-oil,
because of its components and also to produce a good variety of sweets, cakes
This oil is
obtained by distillation of the almond and it possesses "Amigdalina"
compost of 95% of "benzaldehido" and from 2 to 4% of "cyanhidric
acid," which is very poisonous (it has the classic cyanide smell) and it
has to be eliminated from the oil to be used as an aliment (twenty bitter almonds,
if eaten, can be enough to kill a person. In the old days, there were several
formulas of mixing five to twenty bitter-almonds with food to kill foxes, wild
dogs and cats Discóredes Book 1 Chapter 139). The bitter-almond-oil is known
as "benzaldehido", most of us have tried it, when we eat marzipan
"Es Pla de Corona"
Pla de Corona" is by the little village of Santa Agnés, Northwest of
Eivissa. It is a flat area, almost round, nowadays all planted with almond-trees,
surrounded all around by hills that form like a crown to those flat lands ("Corona"
This was the
old name for this area, before the church in honour to Santa Agnés was build
in the neighbourhood. The name of "Corona" is still used by
the older Ibicenco people, but to most, this area is known now as "Santa
Agnés de Corona".
"Es Pla de Corona"
no hagi anat a Corona
cap any pel mes de febrer
no sap el que és cosa bona...
no sap bé el que es perd,
perqué els ametllers floreixen
pel pla de Santa Agnés...
fan un núvol rosa y blanc,
un perfum tan penetrant
que el que hi vagi el primer any
espere impacient tot l'any
que torni el proper febrer."
Maria Neus Planells i Molina, Eivissa, 1990.
la llum dels ametllers" (II)
Quaderns de Literatura.
Almond trees In Bloom
To be continued in two