The avocado is a tree that is native to South Central Mexico, classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about it!
1.Persea americana, or the avocado, is believed to have originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico,though fossil evidence suggests similar species were much more widespread millions of years ago, occurring as far north as California when the climate of that region was more hospitable to them.
2. The native, undomesticated variety is known as a criollo, and is small, with dark black skin, and contains a large seed.
3. It probably coevolved with extinct megafauna.
4. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, Mexico, that dates to around 10,000 BC.
5. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America, likely beginning as early as 5,000 BC.
6. A water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to AD 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan.
7. The earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martín Fernández de Enciso (circa 1470–1528) in 1519 in his book, Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo.
8. The first written record in English of the use of the word ‘avocado’ was by Hans Sloane in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia in 1750, Brazil in 1809, South Africa and Australia in the late 19th century, and the Levant in 1908.
9. The word “avocado” comes from the Spanish aguacate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word which goes back to the proto-Aztecan *pa:wa which also meant “avocado”.
10. Sometimes the Nahuatl word was used with the meaning “testicle”, probably because of the likeness between the fruit and the body part.
11. Commercial orchards produce an average of seven tonnes per hectare each year, with some orchards achieving 20 tonnes per hectare.
12. Biennial bearing 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. Several cold-hardy varieties are planted in the region of Gainesville, Florida, which survive temperatures as low as −6.5 °C (20 °F) with only minor leaf damage.
13. Like the banana, the avocado is a climacteric fruit, which 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 (37.9 to 42.1 °F) until they reach their final destination. Avocados must be mature to ripen properly.
14. Avocados that fall off the tree ripen on the ground. Generally, the fruit is picked once it reaches maturity; Mexican growers pick ‘Hass’ avocados when they have more than 23% dry matter, and other producing countries have similar standards. Once picked, avocados ripen in one to two weeks (depending on the cultivar) at room temperature (faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas, because of the influence of ethylene gas). Some supermarkets sell ripened avocados which have been treated with synthetic ethylene to hasten ripening.
15. The use of an ethylene gas “ripening room”, which is now an industry standard, was pioneered in the 1980s by farmer Gil Henry of Escondido, California, in response to footage from a hidden supermarket camera which showed shoppers repeatedly squeezing hard, unripe avocados, putting them “back in the bin,” and moving on without making a purchase.
16. 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.
17. Avocados can be propagated by seed, taking roughly four to six years to bear fruit, although in some cases seedlings can take 10 years to come into bearing.
18. The offspring is unlikely to be identical to the parent cultivar in fruit quality. Prime quality varieties are therefore propagated by grafting to rootstocks that are propagated by seed (seedling rootstocks) or by layering (clonal rootstocks).
19. After about a year of growing in a greenhouse, the young rootstocks 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.
20. Clonal rootstocks are selected for tolerance of specific soil and disease conditions, such as poor soil aeration or resistance to the soil-borne disease (root rot) caused by Phytophthora.