Avocado
Overview
The avocado is a tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

 family Lauraceae
Lauraceae
The Lauraceae or Laurel family comprises a group of flowering plants included in the order Laurales. The family contains about 55 genera and over 3500, perhaps as many as 4000, species world-wide, mostly from warm or tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia and South America...

 along with cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, camphor and bay laurel
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 (botanically
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 a large berry
Berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

 that contains a single seed) of the tree, which may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped or spherical.

Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world.
Encyclopedia
The avocado is a tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

 family Lauraceae
Lauraceae
The Lauraceae or Laurel family comprises a group of flowering plants included in the order Laurales. The family contains about 55 genera and over 3500, perhaps as many as 4000, species world-wide, mostly from warm or tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia and South America...

 along with cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, camphor and bay laurel
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 (botanically
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 a large berry
Berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

 that contains a single seed) of the tree, which may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped or spherical.

Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, pear-shaped fleshy body that ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating
Self-pollination
Self-pollination is a form of pollination that can occur when a flower has both stamen and a carpel in which the cultivar or species is self fertile and the stamens and the sticky stigma of the carpel contact each other in order to accomplish pollination...

 and often are propagated
Plant propagation
Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts. Plant propagation can also refer to the artificial or natural dispersal of plants.-Sexual propagation :...

 through grafting
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

 to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.

History

P. americana, or the avocado, originated in the state of Puebla
Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

, Mexico. The native, undomesticated variety is known as a criollo, and is small, with dark black skin, and contains a large seed. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, Mexico, that dates to around 10,000 BC. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America; a water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to AD 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan
Chan Chan
The largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, Chan Chan is an archaeological site located in the Peruvian region of La Libertad, five km west of Trujillo. Chan Chan covers an area of approximately 20 km² and had a dense urban center of about 6km²...

. The earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martín Fernández de Enciso
Martín Fernández de Enciso
Martín Fernández de Enciso was a navigator and geographer from Seville, Spain. He was instrumental in colonising the Isthmus of Darien. Fernandez de Enciso founded a village near the Cabo de la Vela with the name Nuestra Señora Santa María de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela, the first settlement...

 (c.1470–c.1528) in 1518 or 1519 in his book, Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo. The first written record in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 of the use of the word 'avocado' was by Hans Sloane
Hans Sloane
Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS was an Ulster-Scot physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the British nation which became the foundation of the British Museum...

 in a 1696 index of Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 in 1750, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 in 1809, the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 in 1908, and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in the late 19th century.

Etymology

The word 'avocado' comes from the Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ahuácatl (testicle
Testicle
The testicle is the male gonad in animals. Like the ovaries to which they are homologous, testes are components of both the reproductive system and the endocrine system...

, a reference to the shape of the fruit). Avocados were known by the Aztecs as 'the fertility fruit'. In some countries of South America, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

 name, palta
Palta
The Palta are a Peruvian Native American ethnic group. They once spoke the unclassified and scarcely attested Palta language....

. In other Spanish-speaking countries is known by the Mexican name and in Portuguese it is abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s). The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 word guacamole
Guacamole
Guacamole , is an avocado-based dip that originated in Mexico. It is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados with a molcajete with sea salt. Some recipes call for limited tomato, spicy Asian spices such as white onion, lime juice, and/or additional seasonings.-History:Guacamole was made by...

derives. It is known as Butter Fruit in parts of India. In China it is known as alligator pear (鳄梨) or butter fruit (黄油果).

Cultivation

Food and agriculture
Avocado fruit (cv. 'Fuerte'); left: whole, right: in section
Country Quantity (Tm) World Rank
Mexico 1,040,390 1
Indonesia 263,575 2
United States of America 214,000 3
Colombia 185,811 4
Brazil 175,000 5
Chile 163,000 6
Dominican Republic 140,000 7
Peru 102,000 8
China 85,000 9
Ethiopia 81,500 10



The tree grows to 20 m (69 ft), with alternately arranged leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 12 centimetres (4.7 in) – 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long. The flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 5 millimetre (0.196850393700787 in) – 10 millimetre (0.393700787401575 in) wide. The pear
Pear
The pear is any of several tree species of genus Pyrus and also the name of the pomaceous fruit of these trees. Several species of pear are valued by humans for their edible fruit, but the fruit of other species is small, hard, and astringent....

-shaped fruit is 7 centimetres (2.8 in) – 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, weighs between 100 grams (3.5 oz) – 1000 grams (35.3 oz), and has a large central seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

, 5 centimetres (2 in) – 6.4 centimetres (2.5 in) long.

The subtropical species needs a climate without frost and with little wind. High winds reduce the humidity, dehydrate the flowers, and affect pollination. When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit drop may occur, although the Hass cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

 can tolerate temperatures down to −1°C. The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep. Yield is reduced when the irrigation water is highly saline
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

. These soil and climate conditions are available only in a few areas of the world, particularly in southern Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, parts of central and northern Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, parts of southern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, the Philippines, Malaysia, Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the Caribbean, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Hawai'i, and Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

. Each region has different types of cultivars.

Harvest and postharvest

Commercial orchards produce an average of seven tonnes per hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

 each year, with some orchards achieving 20 tonnes per hectare. Biennial bearing
Biennial bearing
Biennial bearing bearing is a term used in pomology to refer to trees that have an irregular crop load from year to year. In the "on" year too much fruit is set, leading to small fruit size. Excess weight in the main branches can be too much for their mechanical resistance, causing them to break...

 can be a problem, with heavy crops in one year being followed by poor yields the next. The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and can be grown only in subtropical or tropical climates.

The avocado is a climacteric
Climacteric (botany)
The climacteric is a stage of fruit ripening associated with ethylene production and cell respiration rise. Apples, bananas, melons, apricots, tomatoes are climacteric fruit. Citrus, grapes, strawberries are non-climacteric...

 fruit (the banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

 is another), which means it matures on the tree, but ripens off the tree. Avocados used in commerce are picked hard and green and kept in coolers at 3.3 to 5.6°C (38 to 42°F) until they reach their final destination. Avocados must be mature to ripen properly. Avocados that fall off the tree ripen on the ground. Generally, the fruit is picked once it reaches maturity; Mexican growers pick Hass-variety avocados when they have more than 23% dry matter, and other producing countries have similar standards. Once picked, avocados ripen in a few days at room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

 (faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas, because of the influence of ethylene
Ethylene
Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...

 gas). Some supermarkets sell pre-ripened avocados which have been treated with synthetic ethylene
Ethylene
Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...

 to hasten ripening. In some cases avocados can be left on the tree for several months, which is an advantage to commercial growers who seek the greatest return for their crop; but if the fruit remains unpicked for too long it falls to the ground.

Breeding

The species is only partially able to self-pollinate
Self-pollination
Self-pollination is a form of pollination that can occur when a flower has both stamen and a carpel in which the cultivar or species is self fertile and the stamens and the sticky stigma of the carpel contact each other in order to accomplish pollination...

 because of dichogamy
Dichogamy
Sequential hermaphroditism is a type of hermaphroditism that occurs in many fish, gastropods and plants. Here, the individual is born one sex and changes sex at some point in their life. They can change from a male to female , or from female to male...

 in its flowering. This limitation, added to the long juvenile period, makes the species difficult to breed. Most cultivars are propagated via grafting
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

, having originated from random seedling plants or minor mutation
Mutation
In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. They can be defined as sudden and spontaneous changes in the cell. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons and mutagenic...

s derived from cultivars. Modern breeding programs tend to use isolation plots where the chances of cross-pollination
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

 are reduced. That is the case for programs at the University of California, Riverside
University of California, Riverside
The University of California, Riverside, commonly known as UCR or UC Riverside, is a public research university and one of the ten general campuses of the University of California system. UCR is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the United...

, as well as the Volcani Centre and the Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias in Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

.

The avocado is unusual in that the timing of the male and female flower phases differs among cultivars. There are two flowering types, "A" and "B". "A" cultivar flowers open as female on the morning of the first day and close in late morning or early afternoon. Then they open as male in the afternoon of the second day. "B" varieties open as female on the afternoon of the first day, close in late afternoon and reopen as male the following morning.
  • "A" cultivars: Hass, Gwen, Lamb Hass, Pinkerton, Reed.
  • "B" cultivars: Fuerte, Sharwil, Zutano, Bacon, Ettinger, Sir Prize, Walter Hole.


Certain cultivars, such as the Hass, have a tendency to bear well only in alternate years. After a season with a low yield, due to factors such as cold (which the avocado does not tolerate well), the trees tend to produce abundantly the next season. In addition, due to environmental circumstances during some years, seedless avocados may appear on the trees. Known in the avocado industry as "cukes", they are usually discarded commercially due to their small size.

Propagation and rootstocks

While an avocado propagated by seed can bear fruit, it takes roughly four to six years to do so, and the offspring is unlikely to resemble the parent cultivar in fruit quality. Rootstock
Rootstock
A rootstock is a plant, and sometimes just the stump, which already has an established, healthy root system, used for grafting a cutting or budding from another plant. The tree part being grafted onto the rootstock is usually called the scion...

s are propagated by seed (seedling rootstocks) and also layering
Layering
Layering is a means of plant propagation in which a portion of an aerial stem grows roots while still attached to the parent plant and then detaches as an independent plant. Layering has evolved as a common means of vegetative propagation of numerous species in natural environments...

 (clonal rootstocks). After about a year of growing in a greenhouse, the young plants are ready to be grafted. Terminal and lateral grafting is normally used. The scion cultivar grows for another 6–12 months before the tree is ready to be sold. Clonal rootstocks have been selected for specific soil and disease conditions, such as poor soil aeration or resistance to the soil-borne disease (root rot) caused by Phytophthora
Phytophthora
Phytophthora is a genus of plant-damaging Oomycetes , whose member species are capable of causing enormous economic losses on crops worldwide, as well as environmental damage in natural ecosystems. The genus was first described by Heinrich Anton de Bary in 1875...

.

Growing indoors

Usually, avocados are grown from pits indoors. This is often done by removing the pit from a ripe, unrefrigerated avocado. The pit is then stabbed with three or four tooth picks, about one third of the way up. The pit is placed in a jar or vase with tepid water. In four to six weeks, it should split and out should come roots and a sprout. If there is no change by this time, the avocado pit is discarded. Once the stem has grown a few inches, it is placed in a pot with soil. It should be watered every few days. Avocados have been known to grow large, so owners must be ready to repot the plant several times.

Diseases

Avocado trees are vulnerable to bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

l, viral
Virus
A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

, fungal
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 and nutritional diseases (excesses and deficiencies of key minerals). Disease can affect all parts of the plant, causing spotting, rotting, cankers, pitting and discoloration.

Cultivation in California

The avocado was introduced from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 to the U.S
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 state of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in the 19th century, and has become an extremely successful cash crop
Cash crop
In agriculture, a cash crop is a crop which is grown for profit.The term is used to differentiate from subsistence crops, which are those fed to the producer's own livestock or grown as food for the producer's family...

. About 59000 acres (238.8 km²) – some 95% of United States avocado production – is located in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

, with 60% in San Diego County
San Diego County, California
San Diego County is a large county located in the southwestern corner of the US state of California. Hence, San Diego County is also located in the southwestern corner of the 48 contiguous United States. Its county seat and largest city is San Diego. Its population was about 2,813,835 in the 2000...

. Fallbrook, California
Fallbrook, California
Fallbrook is an unincorporated community in northern San Diego County, California. The Fallbrook census-designated place population was 30,534 at the 2010 census, up from 29,100 at the 2000 census....

, claims the title of "Avocado Capital of the World", and both Fallbrook and Carpinteria, California
Carpinteria, California
Carpinteria is a small oceanside city located in southeastern Santa Barbara County, California, east of Santa Barbara and northwest of Ventura. The population was 13,040 at the 2010 census, down from 14,194 at the 2000 census....

, host annual avocado festivals.

A Cultivars

Choquette: A seedling from Miami, Florida on the property of Remi Choquette. Now a favored commercial cultivar in south Florida.
Hass: While dozens of cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s are grown, the Hass avocado is today the most common. It produces fruit year-round and accounts for 80% of cultivated avocados in the world. All Hass avocado trees are descended from a single "mother tree" raised by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass
Rudolph Hass
Rudolph Gustav Hass was the developer of the Hass avocado, the source of 95% of avocados grown commercially today.-Biography:Rudolph Gustav Hass was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 5, 1892 to Henry C. Hass and Alma F. Hass. Known as Rudie, Hass quit school after finishing 10th grade at age 15...

, of La Habra Heights, California
La Habra Heights, California
La Habra Heights is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 5,325 at the 2010 census, down from 5,712 at the 2000 census. La Habra Heights is a rural canyon community located on the border of Orange and Los Angeles County. The zoning is lots with a variety of...

. Hass patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

ed the productive tree in 1935. The "mother tree", of uncertain subspecies, died of root rot
Root rot
Root rot is a condition found in both indoor and outdoor plants, although more common in indoor plants with poor drainage. As the name states, the roots of the plant rot. Usually, this is a result of overwatering. In houseplants, it is a very common problem, and is slightly less common in outdoor...

 and was cut down in September, 2002. Hass trees have medium-sized (150–250 g), ovate fruit with a black, pebbled skin. The flesh has a nutty, rich flavour with 19% oil. A hybrid Guatemalan type, it can withstand temperatures to −1°C (30°F).
Gwen: A seedling bred from Hass x Thille in 1982, Gwen is higher yielding and more dwarfing than Hass in California. The fruit has an oval shape, slightly smaller than Hass (100-200g), with a rich, nutty flavor. The skin texture is more finely pebbled than Hass, and is dull green when ripe. It is frost-hardy down to −1°C (30°F).
Lula
Lula (avocado)
The Lula' avocado is an avocado cultivar that originated in south Florida. 'Lula' became a widely propagated avocado after its introduction due to favorable characteristics, including its eating qualities.- History :...

: A seedling reportedly grown from a 'Taft' avocado planted in Miami, Florida on the property of George Cellon, named after Cellon's wife Lula. It was likely a cross between Mexican and Guatamalan types. Lula was recognized for its flavor and high oil content and propagated commercially in Florida. It is also very commonly used as a rootstock for nursery production. Hardy to −4°C (25°F)
Pinkerton: First grown on the Pinkerton Ranch in Saticoy, California
Saticoy, California
Saticoy is an unincorporated town and census-designated place in Ventura County, California. It lies in the Santa Clara River Valley, south of the intersection of Wells Road and the Santa Paula Freeway, on the east side of Ventura, and north of the Santa Clara River at the head of the delta...

, in the early 1970s, Pinkerton is a seedling of Hass' Rincon. The large fruit has a small seed, and its green skin deepens in color as it ripens. The thick flesh has a smooth, creamy texture, pale green color, good flavor and high oil content. It shows some cold tolerance, to −1°C (30°F) and bears consistently heavy crops. A hybrid Guatemalan type, it has excellent peeling characteristics.
Reed: Developed from a chance seedling found in 1948 by James S. Reed in California, Reed has large, round, green fruit with a smooth texture and dark, thick, glossy skin. Smooth and delicate, the flesh has a slightly nutty flavor. The skin ripens green. A Guatemalan type, it is hardy to −1°C (30°F). Tree size is about 5 by 4 meters.

B cultivars

Bacon: Developed by a farmer, James Bacon, in 1954, Bacon has medium-sized fruit with smooth, green skin with yellow-green, light tasting flesh. When ripe, the skin remains green, but darkens slightly, and fruit yields to gentle pressure. It is cold-hardy down to −5°C (23°F).
Brogden
Brogden (avocado)
The Brogden avocado is a named cultivar of avocado that originated in Florida.- History :The original tree grew from a seed planted in the grove of Tom W. Brogden of Winter Haven, Florida in the 1930s...

: Possibly a cross between Mexican and West Indian types, Brogden originated as a seedling grown in Winter Haven, Florida on the property of Tom W. Brogden. The variety was recognized for its cold-hardiness to −5°C (22°F) and became commercially propagated as nursery-stock for home growing. It is noted for its dark purple skin at maturity.
Ettinger: A Mexican/Guatemalan cross seedling of Fuerte, this cultivar originated in Israel, and was put into production there in 1947.
Mature trees tolerate four hours at −6°C (21°F). The fruit has a smooth, thin, green skin that does not peel easily. The flesh is very pale green.
Fuerte: A Mexican/Guatemalan cross originating in Puebla
Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

, the Fuerte earned its name, which means strong in Spanish, after it withstood a severe frost in California in 1913. Hardy to −3°C (26°F), it has medium-sized, pear-shaped fruit with a green, leathery, easy to peel skin. The creamy flesh of mild and rich flavour has 18% oil. The skin ripens green. Tree size is 6 by 4 meters.
Monroe
Monroe (avocado)
The Monroe avocado is a commercial named cultivar of avocado that originated in south Florida. It became popular for its production habits and relative cold-hardiness and is widely grown in Florida.- History :...

: A Guatemalan/West Indian cross that originated from a seedling grown in Homestead, Florida on the property of J.J.L. Phillips, it was patented in 1937 and became a major commercial cultivar due to its cold hardiness and production qualities. The fruit is large, averaging over 2 pounds in weight, has an elliptical shape, and green, glossy skin. Hardy to −3°C (26°F).
Sharwil: Predominantly Guatemalan, with some Mexican race genes, Sharwil was selected in 1951 by Sir Frank Sharpe at Redland Bay
Redland Bay, Queensland
Redland Bay is a suburb south-east of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia, and is part of the Redland City local government area. It is named for the bay it sits on, which forms part of larger Moreton Bay...

, southern Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia. The name "Sharwil" is an amalgamation of Sharp and Wilson (J.C. Wilson being the first propagator). Scions were sent from Australia to Hawaii in 1966. A medium-sized fruit with rough green skin, it closely resembles the Fuerte, but is slightly more oval in shape. The fruit has greenish-yellow flesh with a rich, nutty flavor and high oil content (20–24%), and a small seed. The skin is green when ripe. It represents more than 57% of the commercial farming in Hawaii, and represents up to 20% of all avocados grown in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Australia. It is a regular and moderate bearer with excellent quality fruit, but is sensitive to frost. Disease and pest resistance are superior to Fuerte.
Zutano: Originated by R.L. Ruitt in Fallbrook in 1926, this Mexican variety is hardy to −4°C (25°F). The large, pear-shaped fruit has a shiny, thin, yellow-green skin that peels moderately easily. The flesh is pale green with fibers and has a light flavor.

Other cultivars

Other avocado cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s include Spinks. The fruit of the cultivar Florida, grown mostly outside California, is larger and rounder, with a smooth, medium-green skin, and a less-fatty, firmer and fibrous flesh. These are occasionally marketed as low-calorie avocados. Historically attested varieties (which may or may not survive among Horticulturists
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

) include the Challenge, Dickinson, Kist, Queen, Rey, Royal, Sharpless, and Taft.

Avocado-related international trade issues

After the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, Mexico tried exporting avocados to the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The US government resisted, claiming the trade would introduce Tephritidae
Tephritidae
Tephritidae is one of two fly families referred to as "fruit flies", the other family being Drosophilidae. Tephritidae does not include the biological model organisms of the genus Drosophila , which is often called the "common fruit fly". There are nearly 5,000 described species of tephritid...

 fruit flies that would destroy California's crops. The Mexican government responded by inviting USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 inspectors to Mexico, but the U.S. government declined, claiming fruit fly inspection was not feasible. The Mexican government then proposed to sell avocados only to the northeastern US in the winter (fruit flies cannot withstand extreme cold). The US government balked, but gave in when the Mexican government started erecting barriers to US corn.

Another argument is that the lower prices generated by Mexican (and Chilean) imports would increase the popularity of avocados outside of California, thereby assuaging the loss of profits due to the new competition.

Today, avocados from Mexico are allowed in all 50 states, because USDA inspectors in Michoacán
Michoacán
Michoacán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia...

 (where 90% of Hass avocados from Mexico are grown), have cut open and inspected millions of fruit in Uruapan
Uruapan
Uruapan is a city and municipality in the west-central part of the Mexican state of Michoacán. The city is the municipal seat of the municipality...

, and found no problems. Imports from Mexico in the 2005–2006 season exceeded 130,000 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s.

In 2009, Peru joined Chile and Mexico as an exporter of avocados to the US.

Avocados once were more expensive in the US than in most other countries, because those consumed in the US were grown almost exclusively in California and Florida, where land, labor and water are expensive. The avocado tree requires frequent, deep watering to bear optimal amounts of fruit, particularly in spring, summer, and fall; and due to the increased costs for water in Southern California versus those of prior decades, it is now a costly crop to grow. California produces about 90% of the United States' avocado crop.

Internationally, avocado exports are dominated by Mexico.

Culinary uses

The fruit of horticultural cultivars has a markedly higher fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 content than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat
Monounsaturated fat
In biochemistry and nutrition, monounsaturated fats or MUFA are fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain and all of the remainder of the carbon atoms in the chain are single-bonded...

, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy, etc.) is limited.

A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is prone to enzymatic browning
Enzymatic browning
Browning is the process of becoming brown, especially referring to food. Browning foods may be desirable, as in caramelization, or undesirable, as in an apple turning brown after being cut...

; it turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

 or lemon
Lemon
The lemon is both a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree's ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used, mainly in cooking and baking...

 juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.
The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, and distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes, though in many countries not for both. The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine
Vegetarian cuisine
Vegetarian cuisine refers to food that meets vegetarian standards by not including meat and animal tissue products. For lacto-ovo vegetarianism , eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese are permitted...

, as substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

 content.

Generally, avocado is served raw, though some cultivars, including the common Hass, can be cooked for a short time without becoming bitter. Caution should be used when cooking with untested cultivars; the flesh of some avocados may be rendered inedible by heat. Prolonged cooking induces this chemical reaction in all cultivars.

It is used as the base for the Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 dip
Dip (food)
A dip or dipping sauce is a common condiment for many types of food. Dips are used to add flavor and/or texture to a food, such as pita bread, dumplings, crackers, cut-up raw vegetables, seafood, cubed pieces of meat and cheese, potato chips, tortilla chips, and falafel...

 known as guacamole
Guacamole
Guacamole , is an avocado-based dip that originated in Mexico. It is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados with a molcajete with sea salt. Some recipes call for limited tomato, spicy Asian spices such as white onion, lime juice, and/or additional seasonings.-History:Guacamole was made by...

, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast, served with spices.

In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and southern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 (especially the coastal Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 and Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 region), avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 and other desserts. In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, a dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

 drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup
Chocolate syrup
Chocolate syrup is a chocolate flavored condiment. It is often used as a topping for various desserts, such as ice cream or mixed with milk to make chocolate milk.-Basic ingredients:...

 is sometimes added. In Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, there is a similar chilled avocado and milk drink, that is sweetened with confectioner's sugar and hinted with orange flower water
Orange flower water
Orange flower water, or orange blossom water, is a clear, perfumed distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms.This essential water has traditionally been used in many French and Mediterranean dessert dishes, such as the gibassier and pompe à l'huile, but has more recently found its way into...

.

In Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, avocados are made into juice by mixing them with sugar and milk or water, usually served with Vimto
Vimto
Vimto is a soft drink originating from the United Kingdom. It was first manufactured as a health tonic in cordial form, then decades later as a carbonated drink. It contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants , flavoured with herbs and spices...

 and a slice of lemon. It is also very common to serve layered multiple fruit juices in a glass (locally called spreece) made of avocados, mangoes, bananas, guavas and papayas. Avocados are also used to make salads.

Avocados in savory dishes, often seen as exotic, are a relative novelty in Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

-speaking countries, such as Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, where the traditional preparation is mashed with sugar and lime, and eaten as a dessert or snack. This contrasts with Spanish speaking countries, such as Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 or Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, where the opposite is true and sweet preparations are often unheard of.

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, it is commonly served in sandwiches, sushis, on toast, or with chicken. In Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, it is often eaten alone in sliced bread as a sandwich. In Sri Lanka, well ripened flesh, thoroughly mashed with sugar and milk, or treacle (a syrup made from the nectar of a particular palm flower) was once a popular dessert. In Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 it is often consumed with cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

 or regular bread for breakfast.

In Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Peru, they are consumed with tequeño
Tequeño
A tequeño or dedito de queso is prepared with a bread dough with queso blanco in the middle. It is formed into a breadstick and then usually fried...

s
as mayonnaise, served as a side dish with parrillas
Asado
Asado is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and southern Brazil. In the former countries asado is also the standard word for barbecue. An asado usually consists of beef alongside various...

, used in salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when filled with tuna, shrimp, or chicken. In Chile, it is used as a puree with chicken, hamburger
Hamburger
A hamburger is a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat usually placed inside a sliced bread roll...

s, and hot dog
Hot dog
A hot dog is a sausage served in a sliced bun. It is very often garnished with mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish and/or sauerkraut.-History:...

s; and in slices for celery
Celery
Apium graveolens is a plant species in the family Apiaceae commonly known as celery or celeriac , depending on whether the petioles or roots are eaten: celery refers to the former and celeriac to the latter. Apium graveolens grows to 1 m tall...

 or lettuce
Lettuce
Lettuce is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable. It is eaten either raw, notably in salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, and many other dishes, or cooked, as in Chinese cuisine in which the stem becomes just as important...

 salads. The Chilean version of Caesar salad
Caesar salad
A Caesar salad is a salad of romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper. It may be prepared tableside.-History:...

 contains large slices of mature avocado. In Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, the avocado is often eaten as a fruit, and is eaten alone, or mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad, or as part of a vegetable salad. In Iran, it is used as a rejuvenating facial cream.

A puree of the fruit was used to thicken and flavor the liqueur Advocaat
Advocaat
Advocaat is a rich and creamy liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy. It has a smooth, custard-like flavor and is similar to eggnog. In English-speaking countries it generally contains 15% alcohol , but in Continental Europe the typical alcohol content differs from country to country and is...

 in its original recipe, made by the Dutch population of Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

 and Recife
Recife
Recife is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil with 4,136,506 inhabitants, the largest metropolitan area of the North/Northeast Regions, the 5th-largest metropolitan influence area in Brazil, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. The population of the city proper...

, with the name deriving from the same source.

Avocado slices are frequently added to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada
Carne asada
In Mexican cuisine, "Carne asada" is an item that consists of thin beef steak. The meat can be marinated by rubbing with olive oil and salt or with spice rubs such as lemon and pepper or garlic salt, lime, or Worcestershire sauce, before being cooked on a grill. The meat can be served alone or...

. Avocado can be combined with eggs (in scrambled eggs, tortillas or omelettes), and is a key ingredient in California roll
California roll
The California roll is a maki-zushi, a kind of sushi roll, usually made inside-out, containing cucumber, crab meat or imitation crab, and avocado. In some countries it is made with mango instead of avocado...

s and other makizushi ("maki", or rolled sushi
Sushi
is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients . Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari...

).

In southern Africa, Avocado Ritz is a common dish.

In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the avocado became widely available in the 1960s when it was introduced by Marks and Spencer under the name 'avocado pear'. However, many customers tried to use it as a dessert ingredient like other pears (e.g. with custard), and complained to the store that it was inedible. As a result, Marks and Spencer dropped the word 'pear' and labelled it simply 'avocado'.

Nutritional value

Avocados have diverse fats. For a typical avocado:
  • About 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat
    Monounsaturated fat
    In biochemistry and nutrition, monounsaturated fats or MUFA are fatty acids that have one double bond in the fatty acid chain and all of the remainder of the carbon atoms in the chain are single-bonded...

    .
  • On a 100 g basis, avocados have 35% more potassium
    Potassium
    Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

     (485 mg) than banana
    Banana
    Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

    s (358 mg). They are rich in B vitamins
    B vitamins
    B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. The B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B . Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods...

    , as well as vitamin E
    Vitamin E
    Vitamin E is used to refer to a group of fat-soluble compounds that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. There are many different forms of vitamin E, of which γ-tocopherol is the most common in the North American diet. γ-Tocopherol can be found in corn oil, soybean oil, margarine and dressings...

     and vitamin K
    Vitamin K
    Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the posttranslational modification of certain proteins required for blood coagulation and in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue. They are 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives...

    .
  • Avocados have a high fiber content of 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber.


High avocado intake was shown in one preliminary study to lower blood cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

 levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, mild hypercholesterolemia
Hypercholesterolemia
Hypercholesterolemia is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is not a disease but a metabolic derangement that can be caused by many diseases, notably cardiovascular disease...

 patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride
Triglyceride
A triglyceride is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids. There are many triglycerides, depending on the oil source, some are highly unsaturated, some less so....

 levels and 11% increase in HDL
High density lipoprotein
High-density lipoprotein is one of the five major groups of lipoproteins, which, in order of sizes, largest to smallest, are chylomicrons, VLDL, IDL, LDL, and HDL, which enable lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides to be transported within the water-based bloodstream...

 (helpful cholesterol) levels. Additionally a Japanese team synthesised the four chiral components, and identified (2R, 4R)-16-heptadecene-1, 2, 4-triol as a natural antibacterial component.

Due to a combination of specific aliphatic acetogenins, avocado is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity.

Extracts of P. americana have been used in laboratory research to study potential use for treating hypertension
Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiac chronic medical condition in which the systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated. What that means is that the heart is having to work harder than it should to pump the blood around the body. Blood pressure involves two measurements, systolic and...

 or diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced...

.

As a houseplant

While not particularly popular, the avocado tree can be grown domestically and used as a (decorative) houseplant
Houseplant
A houseplant is a plant that is grown indoors in places such as residences and offices. Houseplants are commonly grown for decorative purposes, positive psychological effects, or health reasons such as indoor air purification...

. The pit germinates in normal soil conditions or partially submerged in a container of water. In the latter method, the pit sprouts in four to six weeks, at which time it is planted in fertile soil such as potting soil. The plant generally grows large enough to be prunable; however, it does not bear fruit unless it has ample sunlight. Home gardeners can graft
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

 a branch from a fruit-bearing plant to speed maturity, which typically takes four to six years to bear fruit. To obtain fresh avocado produce, however, more than one tree must be cultivated for crosspollination.

Toxicity to animals

Avocado leaves, bark
Bark
Bark is the outermost layers of stems and roots of woody plants. Plants with bark include trees, woody vines and shrubs. Bark refers to all the tissues outside of the vascular cambium and is a nontechnical term. It overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner...

, skin, or pit are documented to be harmful to animals; cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, rats, birds, fish, and horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume them. The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty towards animals...

 (ASPCA) lists it as toxic to many animals including cats, dogs, and horses. Avocado is an ingredient in AvoDerm dog food and cat food. However, the ASPCA has declined to say whether this food is safe or not.

Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative, persin
Persin
Persin is a fungicidal toxin present in the avocado. It is generally harmless to humans, but when consumed by domestic animals in large quantities it is dangerous. It has been suggested as a treatment for breast cancer....

, which in sufficient quantity can cause colic in horses and, without veterinary treatment, death. The symptoms include gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart, and even death. Birds also seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound. Feeding avocados or guacamole to a non-human animal should be avoided completely. Negative effects in humans seem to be primarily in allergic individuals.

Co-evolution

The avocado may be an example of an 'evolutionary anachronism', a fruit adapted for ecological
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 relationship with now-extinct
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 large mammals (such as giant ground sloth
Ground sloth
Ground sloths are a diverse group of extinct sloths, in the mammalian superorder Xenarthra. Their most recent survivors lived in the Antilles, where it has been proposed they may have survived until 1550 CE; however, the youngest AMS radiocarbon date reported is 4190 BP, calibrated to c. 4700 BP...

s or gomphothere
Gomphothere
Gomphotheriidae is a diverse taxonomic family of extinct elephant-like animals , called gomphotheres. They were widespread in North America during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, 12-1.6 million years ago. Some lived in parts of Eurasia, Beringia and, following the Great American Interchange,...

s). Most large fleshy fruits serve the function of seed dispersal
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

, accomplished by their consumption by large animals. There are some reasons to think that the fruit, with its mildly toxic pit, may have co-evolve
Co-evolution
In biology, coevolution is "the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object." Coevolution can occur at many biological levels: it can be as microscopic as correlated mutations between amino acids in a protein, or as macroscopic as covarying traits between different...

d with Pleistocene megafauna
Pleistocene megafauna
Pleistocene megafauna is the set of species of large animals — mammals, birds and reptiles — that lived on Earth during the Pleistocene epoch and became extinct in a Quaternary extinction event. These species appear to have died off as humans expanded out of Africa and southern Asia,...

 to be swallowed whole and excreted in their dung, ready to sprout. No extant native animal is large enough to effectively disperse avocado seeds in this fashion. If so, the avocado occupies an ecological niche
Ecological niche
In ecology, a niche is a term describing the relational position of a species or population in its ecosystem to each other; e.g. a dolphin could potentially be in another ecological niche from one that travels in a different pod if the members of these pods utilize significantly different food...

 similar to that of the mango
Mango
The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world. It is also the most cultivated fruit of the tropical world. While...

 of Asia.

See also

  • Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul
    Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul
    In Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132 , the Supreme Court of the United States declined to invalidate a California law that imposed minimum maturity standards on avocados sold in the state, including those imported from other states. The law prohibited the retail sale of...

  • Recalcitrant seed
    Recalcitrant seed
    Recalcitrant seeds are seeds that do not survive drying and freezing during ex-situ conservation. Moreover, these seeds cannot resist the effects of drying or temperatures less than 10° C; thus, they cannot be stored for long periods like orthodox seeds because they can lose their viability...

  • Avocado oil
    Avocado oil
    Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the Persea americana . As a food oil, it is used as an ingredient in other dishes, and as a cooking oil. It is also used for lubrication and in cosmetics where it is valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties.It has an unusually...


External links

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