Avocado Tree, Persea americana

Persea americana is a flowering plant that belongs to the Lauraceae family. It is widely known as the Avocado tree.

P. americana is a tree that grows up to 66 feet tall. It has alternately arranged leaves that measure about 5 to 10 inches long. Its flowers are tiny and greenish-yellow, measuring .2 to .4 inches in diameter. The tree’s popular, pear shaped green fruit measures 2.8 to 7.9 inches long and weighs between 3.5 and 35 ounces. It contains a single large seed, measuring 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter.

The avocado fruit has a much higher fat content than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat. It is important in the diet of various groups where access to fatty foods is limited. The fruit is not sweet, but rich with a creamy texture. It is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, used as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads. It is usually served raw, as heat can render the fruit inedible. Avocado fruit, like a banana, matures on the tree but ripens once fallen.

P. americana is indigenous to Mexico and Central America, although the species is widely cultivated. It is a subtropical species that needs a climate without frost and with little wind. Higher winds deter the plant from proper pollination and dehydrate the flowers. With mild frost, it may be prone to premature fruit drop.

Image Caption: Avocado fruit from the Avocado Tree (Persea americana). Credit: B.navez/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.0)