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Avocado

The meaning of «avocado»

The avocado (Persea americana), a tree likely originating from southcentral Mexico,[2][3][4] is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae.[2] The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pear or alligator pear), is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed.[5] Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating, and are often propagated through grafting to maintain predictable fruit quality and quantity.[6]

Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries,[2] with Mexico as the leading producer of avocados in 2019, supplying 32% of the world total.[7]

The fruit of domestic varieties has a buttery flesh when ripe. Depending on the variety, avocados have green, brown, purplish, or black skin when ripe, and may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, the fruits are picked while immature, and ripened after harvesting.

Persea americana is a tree that grows to 20 m (66 ft), with alternately arranged leaves 12–25 cm (5–10 in) long. Panicles of flowers with deciduous bracts arise from new growth or the axils of leaves.[8] The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 5–10 mm (3⁄16–3⁄8 in) wide.

The species is variable because of selection pressure by humans to produce larger, fleshier fruits with a thinner exocarp.[9] The avocado fruit is a climacteric,[10] single-seeded berry, due to the imperceptible endocarp covering the seed,[5][11] rather than a drupe.[12] The pear-shaped fruit is usually 7–20 cm (3–8 in) long, weighs between 100 and 1,000 g (3 1⁄2 and 35 1⁄2 oz), and has a large central seed, 5–6.4 cm (2–2 1⁄2 in) long.[2]

Persea americana, or the avocado, possibly originated in the Tehuacan Valley[13] in the state of Puebla, Mexico,[14] although fossil evidence suggests similar species were much more widespread millions of years ago. However, there is evidence for three possible separate domestications of the avocado, resulting in the currently recognized Mexican (aoacatl), Guatemalan (quilaoacatl), and West Indian (tlacacolaocatl) landraces.[15][16] The Mexican and Guatemalan landraces originated in the highlands of those countries, while the West Indian landrace is a lowland variety that ranges from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador to Peru,[15] achieving a wide range through human agency before the arrival of the Europeans.[16] The three separate landraces were most likely to have already intermingled[a] in pre-Columbian America and were described in the Florentine Codex.[16]

The earliest residents were living in temporary camps in an ancient wetland eating avocados, chilies, mollusks, sharks, birds, and sea lions.[17] The oldest discovery of an avocado pit comes from Coxcatlan Cave, dating from around 9,000 to 10,000 years ago.[13][16] Other caves in the Tehuacan Valley from around the same time period also show early evidence for the presence and consumption of avocado.[13] There is evidence for avocado use at Norte Chico civilization sites in Peru by at least 3,200 years ago and at Caballo Muerto in Peru from around 3,800 to 4,500 years ago.[13]

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