avocado is a tree and the fruit of that tree (Persea americana)
in the flowering plant family
The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and so can be grown
only in subtropical and tropical climates, where the fruit is sometimes called
a pear or alligator
avocado tree is native to Central and South
America. Introduced to California in the 19th century,
it has become extremely successful there as a cash crop. Fallbrook, California,
in San Diego County
claims the title of "Avocado Capital of the World," and hosts an annual Avocado
avocado fruit is botanically a berry. Horticultural varieties range
from more or less round to egg or pear-shaped, typically the size of a temperate
zone pear or larger,
on the outside bright green to green-brown (or almost black) in color, and high
in fat, with a large central seed or pit. Though the fruit does
have a markedly higher fat content than most other vegetables, most of the fat
in avocados exists as monounsaturated fat,
which is relatively unproblematic for human health.
dozens of varieties exist, two cultivars of avocados are commonly available: the
Haas and the Florida. The former is the most
common variety (pictured), with a dark rippled skin, and rich, creamy flesh. The
Florida variety is larger and rounder, with a smooth, medium-green skin, and a
less fatty, firmer flesh. These are occasionally marketed as low-calorie avocados.
flesh is typically greenish yellow to golden yellow, if ripe turning dark soon
after exposure to air. The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine,
making a good substitute for meats and cheeses in sandwiches because of the high
fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, flavorful, and of smooth, almost
creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole.
name "avocado" is from its Nahuatl name 'ahuacatl'
which also meant testicles, with influence from
the irrelevant but much more familiar Spanish avocado an obsolete form
of 'abogado' (lawyer). In some countries of South America the avocado fruit is
know as 'palta', which is a name that comes from the Quechua language. The Nahuatl
ahuacatl could be compounded with others, as in ahuacamolli,
meaning "avocado soup or sauce," from which the Spanish-Mexican word guacamole
avocado fruit does not ripen on the tree, but will fall off (and must be pick
up) in a hard, "green" state, then it will ripen quickly on the ground, but depending
of the amount of oil that it has the taste may be very different. Generally, the
fruit is picked once it reaches a mature size, and will then ripen in a few days—faster
if stored with other fruit such as bananas because of the influence
of ethylene gas. The fruit can be left on the tree until required, rather than
picked and stored, but for commercial reasons it must be picked up as soon as
& Martin (2002) identify the avocado as a fruit adapted for ecological relationship
with large mammals, now extinct (as for example the South American herbivorous
giant ground sloths or Gomphotheres).
This fruit with its mildly toxic pit, co-evolved with those extinct mammals to
be swallowed whole and excreted in dung, ready to sprout. The ecological partners
have disappeared, and the avocado plant has not had time to evolve an alternative
seed dispersal technique.