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Avocado
Lauraceae
Persea americana


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Type Categories Useful Parts

Tree




Lauraceae Family

Persea Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Butter Pear, Avocado Pear, Alligator Pear, Midshipman's Butter, Vegetable Butter, and called by Spanish-speaking people aguacate, cura, cupandra, or palta; in Portuguese, abacate; in French, avocatier


Location

Thought to have originated in Peru

Physical Description
The tree grows to 20 meters (65 ft), with alternately arranged leaves12–25 centimetres long. The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 5–10 millimetres wide. The pear -shaped fruit is 7–20 centimetres long, weighs between 100 and 1000 grams, and has a large central seed, 5–6.4 centimeters long. It is considered by many to be a drupe, but is botanically classified as a berry


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Lauraceae
Laurales
Laurales
Magnoliidae
Class of Magnolias
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

P. americana has a long history of being cultivated in Central and South America; a water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to A.D. 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan, though there is evidence of cultivation in Mexico for as long as 10,000 years. The earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martin Fernandez de Esciso (c. 1470–c. 1528) in 1518 or 1519 in his book, Suma de Geografía que Trata de Todas las Partidas y Provincias del Mundo. The first written record in English of the use of the word 'avocado' was by Hans Sloans in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia by 1750, Brazil in 1809, the Levant in 1908, and South Africa and Australia in the late 19th century

Medicinal Uses: As a source for herbal remedies, many different parts of the avocado tree are utilized in the manufacture of different herbal remedies to be used in the treatment of different disorders and all types of conditions in affected patients. A very efficient and beneficial herbal remedy is prepared from the leaves and the bark of the avocado tree; this is used for the treatment of all kinds of coughs as well as in the treatment of different digestive disorders. A wide array of herbal medicines are also prepared using the fruit, this is quite aside from its extremely nutritious and tasty characteristics - as mentioned the fruit is widely eaten in many parts of the world. The pulp of the avocado was traditionally used and is still widely used by the native people in Guatemala for stimulating the growth of hair on the head, traditional medicine in Latin America also utilizes rind from the fruit as a de-worming agent to expel intestinal worms from the body, the treatment of diarrhea is also done using remedies prepared from the seed of the avocado fruit. Other cultures in different places also made extensive use of the fruit in traditional medicine, for example, in most of West Africa the pulp of the fruit is widely used as baby food even today.

The indigenous peoples of the country of Guatemala make extensive use of the avocado fruit, the dried and fresh leaves, the fruit rind and bark, and even the seeds to prepare many of their traditional tribal medicines.

Additionally, worm expelling property of the rinds of the avocado fruit is a very beneficial ability extensively used in herbal medicine. Herbalists and the popular cultures also attribute an aphrodisiac property to the mashed fruit pulp of the avocado. The fruit pulp is also extensively used as a topical remedy to bring a soothing effect to irritating skin by its cooling effect on the skin of affected persons. As mentioned before, to stimulate the growth of hair, the avocado is applied to the scalp; it is also used as an herbal poultice for suppurating wounds on the body.

Food Uses: The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. Avocado is popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are considered sweet fruits, so are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added.

In Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Chile its consumption is widespread and used as a puree in chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of ceasar salad contains large slices of mature avocado.

The fruit was the basis for the original alcoholic drink Advocaat, made by the Dutch population of Suriname and Recife, with the name deriving from the same source.

Other Notes: The seed yields a milky fluid with the odor and taste of almond. Because of its tannin content, it turns red on exposure, providing an indelible red-brown or blackish ink which was used to write many documents in the days of the Spanish Conquest. These are now preserved in the archives of Popayan. The ink has also been used to mark cotton and linen textiles.

In Guatemala, the bark is boiled with dyes to set the color.

Much avocado wood is available when groves are thinned out or tall trees are topped. The sapwood is cream-colored or beige; the heartwood is pale red-brown, mottled, and dotted with small drops of gummy red sap; fine-grained; light—40 lbs per cu ft—(560-640 kg cu m); moderately soft but brittle; not durable; susceptible to drywood termites and fungi. The wood has been utilized for construction, boards and turnery. An Australian woodworker has reported that it is suitable for carving, resembles White Beech (Eucalyptus kirtonii); is easy to work, and dresses and polishes beautifully. He has made it into fancy jewel boxes. It probably requires careful seasoning. A Florida experimenter made bowls of it but they cracked.

Historically avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant and were not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to preserve a chaste image. Avocados were known by the Aztecs as "the fertility fruit”

Cultivation: The avocado tree is remarkably versatile as to soil adaptability, doing well on such diverse types as red clay, sand, volcanic loam, lateritic soils, or limestone. In Puerto Rico, it has been found healthier on nearly neutral or slightly alkaline soils than on moderately or highly acid soils. The desirable pH level is generally considered to be between 6 and 7, but, in southern Florida, avocados are grown on limestone soils ranging from 7.2 to 8.3. Mexican and Guatemalan cultivars have shown chlorosis on calcareous soils in Israel. The tree's primary requirement is good drainage. It cannot stand excessive soil moisture or even temporary water-logging. Sites with underlying hardpan must be avoided. The water table should be at least 3 ft (.9 m) below the surface. Salinity is prejudicial but certain cultivars (see 'Fuchs-20' and 'Maoz') have shown considerable salt-tolerance in Israel.

The West Indian race requires a tropical or near tropical (southern Florida) climate and high atmospheric humidity especially during flowering and fruitsetting. The Guatemalan race is somewhat hardier, having arisen in subtropical highlands of tropical America, and it is successful in coastal California. The Mexican race is the hardiest and the source of most of California avocados. It is not suited to southern Florida, Puerto Rico or other areas of similar climate. Temperatures as low as 25ºF (-4ºC) do it little harm. In areas of strong winds, wind-breaks are necessary. Wind reduces humidity, debydrates the flowers and interferes with pollination, and also causes many fruits to fall prematurely

Propagation: Normally, avocado seeds lose viability within a month. Fresh seeds germinate in 4 to 6 weeks, and many people in metropolitan areas grow avocado trees as novelty house plants by piercing the seed partway through with toothpicks on both sides to hold it on the top of a tumbler with water just covering 1 2 in (1.25 cm) of the base. When roots and leaves are well formed (in 2 to 6 weeks), the plant is set in potting soil. Of course, it must be given adequate light and ventilation.

In the past, seedlings were grafted when 18 to 36 in (45-90 cm) high. It is now considered far better to graft when 6 to 9 in (15-23 cm) high, making the graft 1 to 3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) above ground level. West Indian rootstocks are desirable for overcoming chlorosis in avocados in Israel.

Avocado cuttings are generally difficult to root. Cuttings of West Indian cultivars will generally root only if they are taken from the tops or side shoots of young seed rings





Avocado




Avocado


Comment: Avocado, Persea americana

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