Avocado

The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to Central Mexico,[1] classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit (botanically a large berry that contains a single seed[2]) of the tree. Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, it ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit. History Native "criollo" avocados, the ancestral form of today's domesticated varieties P. americana, or the avocado, originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The native, undomesticated variety is known as a criollo, and is small, with dark black skin, and contains a large seed.[3] The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlan, Puebla, Mexico, that dates to around 10,000 BC. The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America; a water jar shaped like an avocado, dating to AD 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan.[4] The earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martin Fernandez de Enciso (c.1470c.1528) in 1518 or 1519 in his book, Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo.[5][6] The first written record in English of the use of the word 'avocado' was by Hans Sloane in a 1

96 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia in 1750, Brazil in 1809, the Levant in 1908, and South Africa and Australia in the late 19th century. [edit]Etymology The word "avocado" comes from the Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl [a?'wakat] (testicle, a reference to the shape of the fruit).[7] Avocados were known by the Aztecs as 'the fertility fruit'. In some countries of South America, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries it is known by the Mexican name and in Portuguese it is abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars). The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Spanish word guacamole derives.[8] The modern English name derives from the Spanish form avocado, "advocate", which was formed as a folk etymology that substituted (and obscured) the Nahuatl origins of the word. The earliest known written use in English is attested from 1697 as "Avogato Pear", a term which was later corrupted as "alligator pear".[9] The "advocate"-form appears in several other Germanic languages, such as the German Advogato-Birne, the Swedish advokatparon, the Danish advokat-p?re and the Dutch advocaatpeer.[10] It is known as "butter fruit" in parts of India.[11] In China it is known as e li (, a direct translation of "alligator pear") or huangyou guo (?, "butter fruit").