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Common Name: Avocado, Alligator Pear (English); Aguacate, Palta (Spanish)
Origin: The avocado probably originated in southern Mexico but was cultivated from the Rio Grande to central Peru before the arrival of Europeans.
Species: Guatemalan (Persea nubigena var. guatamalensis L. Wms.), Mexican (P. americana var. drymifolia Blake), West Indian (P. americana Mill. var. americana). Hybrid forms exist between all three types.
Related species: Coyo (Persea schiedeana Nees), Anay (Beilschmiedia anay Kosterm)
Adaptation: Avocados do well in the mild-winter areas of California, Florida and Hawaii. Some hardier varieties can be grown in the cooler parts of northern and inland California and along the Gulf Coast. The northern limits in California is approximately Cape Mendocino and Red Bluff. Avocados do best some distance from ocean influence but are not adapted to the desert interior. West Indian varieties thrive in humid, tropical climates and freeze at or near 32° F. Guatemalan types are native to cool, high-altitude tropics and are hardy 30 - 26° F. Mexican types are native to dry subtropical plateaus and thrive in a Mediterranean climate. They are hardy 24 - 19° F. Avocados need some protection from high winds which may break the branches. There are dwarf forms of avocados suitable for growing in containers. Avocados have been grown in California (Santa Barbara) since 1871.
Growth Habit: The avocado is a dense, evergreen tree, shedding many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing and can with age reach 80 feet, although usually less, and generally branches to form a broad tree. Some cultivars are columnar, others selected for nearly prostrate form. One cultivar makes a good espalier. Growth is in frequent flushes during warm weather in southern regions with only one long flush per year in cooler areas. Injury to branches causes a secretion of dulcitol, a white, powdery sugar, at scars. Roots are coarse and greedy and will raise pavement with age. Grafted plants normally produce fruit within one to two years compared to 8 - 20 years for seedlings.
Foliage: Avocado leaves are alternate, glossy, elliptic and dark green with paler veins. They normally remain on the tree for 2 to 3 years. The leaves of West Indian varieties are scentless, while Guatemalan types are rarely anise-scented and have medicinal use. The leaves of Mexican types have a pronounced anise scent when crushed. The leaves are high in oils and slow to compost and may collect in mounds beneath trees.
Flowers: Avocado flowers appear in January - March before the first seasonal growth, in terminal panicles of 200 - 300 small yellow-green blooms. Each panicle will produce only one to three fruits. The flowers are perfect, but are either receptive to pollen in the morning and shed pollen the following afternoon (type A), or are receptive to pollen in the afternoon, and shed pollen the following morning (type B). About 5% of flowers are defective in form and sterile. Production is best with cross-pollination between types A and B. The flowers attract bees and hoverflies and pollination usually good except during cool weather. Off-season blooms may appear during the year and often set fruit. Some cultivars bloom and set fruit in alternate years.
Fruits: West Indian type avocados produce enormous, smooth round, glossy green fruits that are low in oil and weigh up to 2 pounds. Guatemalan types produce medium ovoid or pear-shaped, pebbled green fruits that turn blackish-green when ripe. The fruit of Mexican varieties are small (6 - 10 ounces) with paper-thin skins that turn glossy green or black when ripe. The flesh of avocados is deep green near the skin, becoming yellowish nearer the single large, inedible ovoid seed. The flesh is hard when harvested but softens to a buttery texture. Wind-caused abrasion can scar the skin, forming cracks which extend into the flesh. "Cukes" are seedless, pickle-shaped fruits. Off-season fruit should not be harvested with the main crop, but left on the tree to mature. Seeds may sprout within an avocado when it is over-mature, causing internal molds and breakdown. High in monosaturates, the oil content of avocados is second only to olives among fruits, and sometimes greater. Clinical feeding studies in humans have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol.
Location: Avocados will grow in shade and between buildings, but are productive only in full sun. The roots are highly competitive and will choke out nearby plants. The shade under the trees is too dense to garden under, and the constant litter can be annoying. In cooler areas plant the tree where it will receive sun during the winter. Give the tree plenty of room--up to 20 feet. The avocado is not suitable for hedgerow, but two or three trees can be planted in a single large hole to save garden space and enhance pollination. At the beach or in windy inland canyons, provide a windbreak of some sort. Once established the avocado is a fairly tough tree. Indoor trees need low night temperatures to induce bloom. Container plants should be moved outdoors with care. Whitewashing the trunk or branches will prevent sunburn.
Soil: Avocado trees like loose, decomposed granite or sandy loam best. They will not survive in locations with poor drainage. The trees grow well on hillsides and should never be planted in stream beds. They are tolerant of acid or alkaline soil. In containers use a planting mix combined with topsoil. Plastic containers should be avoided. It is also useful to plant the tub with annual flowers to reduce excess soil moisture and temperature. Container plants should be leached often to reduce salts.
Irrigation: Avocado trees may not need irrigation during the winter rainy season, but watch for prolonged mid-winter dry spells. Over irrigation can induce root which is the most common cause of avocado failure. To test to see if irrigation is necessary, dig a hole 9 inches deep and test the soil by squeezing. If it is moist (holds together), do not irrigate; if it crumbles in the hand, it may be watered. Watch soil moisture carefully at the end of the irrigating season. Never enter winter with wet soil. Avocados tolerate some salts, though they will show leaf tip burn and stunting of leaves. Deep irrigation will leach salt accumulation.
Fertilization: Commence feeding of young trees after one year of growth, using a balanced fertilizer, four times yearly. Older trees benefit from feeding with nitrogenous fertilizer applied in late winter and early summer. Yellowed leaves (chlorosis) indicate iron deficiency. This can usually be corrected by a chelated foliar spray of trace elements containing iron. Mature trees often also show a zinc deficiency.
Frost Protection: It is important to choose a cultivar that is hardy in your area. Mexican types are the best choice for colder regions. Plant above a slope for air drainage, or near the house for added protection. In youth, protect with rugs, towels and such spread overhead on a frame. For further protection heat with light bulbs and wrap the trunk with sponge foam. These measures also permit tender cultivars to become established in borderline locations; established trees are much hardier than young ones. The upper branches can also be top worked with hardy Mexican types, which will protect a more tender cultivar on lower branches, as well as serving as a pollinator. Harvest fruit before the frost season begins. Cold-damaged fruit turns black. Avocados are often in bloom at the time of frost and the flowers are killed, but the tree tends to rebloom. This is especially true of Mexican types.
Pruning: Columnar cultivars require pinching at early age to form a rounded tree. Others need no training. Current orchard practice avoids staking. The best results are obtained by fencing the tree with plastic mesh for the first two to three years. Container and dwarf trees will need constant staking. The skirts of avocado trees are sometimes trimmed to discourage rodents, otherwise the trees are usually never pruned. Branches exposed to sun by defoliation are extraordinarily susceptible to sunburn and will surely die. Such branches should always be whitewashed. It is better to avoid any pruning. Most cultivars are ill-adapted to espalier. They are too vigorous. Avocado fruit is self-thinning.
Propagation: Desired clonal rootstocks can be be propagated by a method known as the etiolation technique. The largest seed are planted in gallon cans and the seedlings are then grafted to a root rot tolerant clonal scion. When the stem of the graft reaches about 1/4 inch in diameter, the top is cut off leaving a whorl of buds just above the graft. A 4 inch band of black tar paper is formed into an extension of the can and filled with vermiculite and placed in a dark box with high temperature and humidity. When growth is some 3 - 4 inches above the vermiculite, the plant is removed into the light where the upper portion quickly assumes a green color. The tar paper collar is removed, the shoot is severed from the seed and then placed in flats where the cuttings are rooted in the conventional manner. Any seed may also be used for rootstock, but Mexican types make the strongest growth and are the most often used. Plant cleaned seeds as soon as they are ripe. The seedling plants are ready to bud the following year. Budding is done in January, when suitable buds are available. Larger stocks are worked by bark grafts in the spring. Scions are collected Dec - Jan after the buds are well-formed. Paint and cover the graft with a moistened plastic bag and place a vented paper bag over the whole.
Pests and diseases: Rats and squirrels will strip the fruit. Protect with tin trunk wraps. Leaf-rolling caterpillars (Tortrix and Amorbia) may destroy branch terminals. Avocado Brown Mite can be controlled by powdered sulfur. Six-spotted Mite is very harmful; even a small population can cause massive leaf shedding. A miticide may be required if natural predators are absent. Snails can be a problem in California.
Two fungi and one virus cause more damage than any pests. Dothiorella (Botryosphaeria ribis) canker infects the trunk, causing dead patches that spreads to maturing fruit, causing darkened, rancid smelling spots in the flesh. Flesh injury begins after harvest and is impossible to detect on outside. Mexican types are immune to trunk cankers but the fruit is not. The disease is rampant near the coast and has no economical control. Root Rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi) is a soil-borne fungus that infects many plants, including avocados. It is a major disease problem in California. Select disease-free, certified plants and avoid planting where avocados once grew or where soil drainage is poor. The disease is easily transported by equipment, tools and shoes from infected soils. Once a tree is infected (signs include yellowing and dropping leaves), there is little that can be done other than cut back on water. Sun Blotch is a viral disease that causes yellowed streaking of young stems, mottling and crinkling of new leaves and occasional deformation of the fruit. It also causes rectangular cracking and checking of the trunk, as if sunburned. It has no insect vector but is spread by use of infected scions, contaminated tools and roots grafted with adjacent trees. It is important to use virus-free propagating wood.
Harvest: The time of harvest depends upon the variety. Commercial standards requires fruit to reach 8% oil content before harvesting. Mexican types ripen in 6 - 8 months from bloom while Guatemalan types usually take 12 - 18 months. Fruits may continue enlarging on the tree even after maturity. Purple cultivars should be permitted to color fully before harvest. Guatemalan types can be stored firm, at 40 - 50° F. for up to six weeks. Mexican types discolor quickly and require immediate consumption.
Miscellaneous: Leaf and seed extracts have been used for a variety of medical application, including treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and as an antibiotic.
....The English living in Jamaica called the avocado an alligator pear. Some speculate that they were comparing the skin to that of an alligator. Others say alligator was a corruption of ahuacatl. In Jamaica today the people call the avocado a pear. The Dutch called it avocaat; Spain abogado; France avocatier; Trinidad and Tobago zaboca, Even George Washington, First President of the United States, wrote in 1751 that agovago pears were abundant and popular in Barbados.
Did You Know?
• An avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable! It is actually a member of the berry family.
• In the past, the avocado had a well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and wasn't purchased or consumed by any person wishing to protect their image from slanderous assault. Growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the ill-founded reputation before avocados became popular.
• Avocados got their name from the Spanish explorers. They couldn't pronounce the Aztec word for the fruit, know as ahuacatl, "testicle," because of its shape. The Spanish called the aguacate, leading to the guacamole we know today.
• Avocados must reach full maturity before they are picked, however, they do not soften on the tree. The tree can actually be used as a storage unit by keeping the fruit on the tree for many months after maturing.
History of Avocados
It is evident from miscellaneous reports by Spanish Conquistadores that, at the time of the Spanish conquest, avocados were grown from northern Mexico south through Central America into north-western South America and south in the Andean region as far as Peru (where the avocado had been introduced shortly before the conquest), as well as into the Andean region of Venezuela.
The Aztecs used the avocado as a sex stimulant and the Aztec name for avocado was ahuacatl, meaning "testicle." In the pre-Incan city of Chanchan, archaeologists have unearthed a large water jar, dated around 900 A.D., in the shape of an avocado.
1518 - Martin Fernandez de Enciso (1470-1528), Spanish conquistador and cosmographer, wrote the first published record that describes the avocado in his book, Suma De Geografia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Del Mundo, as commonly grown near Santa Marta, Colombia. This was the first account in Spanish of the discoveries in the New World.
1519 -Spanish soldier of fortune Hernando Cortez (1485-1547) set foot in Mexico City, the first white man to do so. Cortez found that the avocado was a staple in the native diet
1526 - Fernandez de Oviedo (1478-1557), historian to the conquistadores, wrote the following on avocados trees he saw along the north coast of Colombia: "In the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut. And between this and the rind is the part which is eaten, which is abundant, and is a paste similar to butter and of very good taste."
1550 - The Spanish name, Aguacate, was first used by Pedro de Cieza de Leon (1518-1554), Spanish conquistador and historian, in a journal of his travels written in 1550. He noted that at that time the avocado grew in Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.
1554 - The first mention of the avocado as growing in Mexico, was made by Francisco Cervantes Salazar in 1554. In his book Crónica de la Nueva España (Chronicles of New Spain), he listed the avocado among fruits sold in the market of Tenochtitlan (the name for Mexico City at that time).
The Spanish conquistadors also discovered a unique use for the avocado seed. The seed yields a milky liquid that becomes red when exposed to air. The Spaniards found they could use this reddish brown or even blackish indelible liquid as ink to be used on documents. Some of these documents are still in existence today.
1672 -W. Hughes, physician to King Charles II of England, in his visit to Jamaica, wrote that the avocado was "One of the most rare and pleasant fruits of the island. It nourisheth and strengtheneth the body, corroborating the spirits and procuring lust exceedingly."
1700s - European sailors in the 1700s called it midshipman's butter because they liked to spread it on hardtack biscuits
1833 - Judge Henry Perrine planted the first avocado tree in Florida.
1856 -.The California State Agricultural Society Report for 1856 stated that Thomas J. White grew the avocado in Los Angeles.
1871 - In California, the first successful introduction of avocado trees was planted by Judge R. B. Ord of Santa Barbara, who secured the trees from Mexico in 1871.
1879 - The oldest living tree is found on the University of California, Berkeley campus and was planted in 1879.
1892 - In other southern California locations, avocados were planted by various people who introduced and planted seed from Mexico and Guatemala. In the early 1890's, Juan Murrieta of Los Angeles became interested in the avocado and imported a large amount of thick-skinned fruit from Atlixco, Mexico. He distributed some of the seeds of these fruits among his friends and planted the others. From this group of seedling trees, came a number of the varieties that first attracted attention as promising commercial fruits.
1895 - In 1895, Young Charles Delmonico and Ranhofer introduced New York to the "alligator pear." or avocado, which had been newly imported from South America. Ranhofer had known of the avocado -- he mentions the avocado in his book, The Epicurean, which he published the previous year -- but until 1895 he had been unable to secure a supply of the buttery fruit.
1911 - Frederick O. Popenoe, owner of the West Indian Gardens of Altadena, California, sent Carl Schmidt to Mexico (Mexico City, Puebla, and Atlixco) to search for avocados of outstanding quality and to locate the trees from which they came. Schmidt, who located what turned out to be the Fuerte as a dooryard tree in Atlixco, Mexico. Only one of the trees he brought back survived the great freeze of 1913 in California. This surviving tree was given the name Fuerte, Spanish for "vigorous." Schmidt said, "Two years later came the big freeze. In the spring when we began to take stock of damage, it was the Fuerte that came through and it was the only avocado that survived. It thus proved itself adaptable to our temperatures."
The Fuerte tree created California's avocado industry. Carl Schmidt was compelled to tell and retell the story of his fortuitous discovery of the Fuerte avocado. “Popenoe was a nut -- an imaginative, idealistic nut without which our nation would suffer and certainly make little progress."
Avocado Nutrition Facts
You probably heard that avocados are fattening and stripped them from your meals. But here's the real scoop: Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and are high in healthy fat. When used in place of other fats, like mayo or butter, avocado can be a nutritious addition to a calorie-controlled diet. One ounce of avocado -- about 3 thin slices -- has just 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. Don't go overboard: Think of it as a condiment and slice some into a salad or spread it on toast.
1. Avocados contain 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein, which some studies suggest may help maintain healthy eyes.
2. Avocados are included in Fruits & Veggies-More Matters™ consumer educational program to promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables for good health.
3. Avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that can contribute to the nutrient quality of your diet.
4. Avocados, due to their mono and polyunsaturated fat content, are a healthy substitution for foods rich in saturated fat.
5. One-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz) has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals making it a good nutrient choice.
6. Avocados contain 76 milligrams beta-sitosterol in a 3-oz serving of avocado. Beta-sitosterol is a natural plant sterol which may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Avocados and Babies
The avocado's smooth, creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy. Sodium- and cholesterol- free, avocados contain valuable nutrients including 8% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for folate; 4% DV for fiber and potassium, 4% DV for vitamin E; and 2% DV for iron. A serving of avocado also contains 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene. Per serving, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.
Avocados and Heart Disease:
• Avocados can help consumers meet the dietary guidelines of the American Heart Association, which are to eat a diet that is low to moderate in fat.
• The fats should be primarily unsaturated and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. The avocado is virtually the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat.
• Avocados help assist consumers in meeting a major dietary goal of reducing saturated fat in the diet, when they are consumed in place of saturated-fat containing foods.
Avocado and Weight Loss/Maintenance:
• When used instead of other fats, avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and can be part of a calorie-reduced diet.
• Avocados can be a satisfying addition to a calorie-reduced diet, when they are eaten in lieu of other fats.
• When enjoyed in place of other fats, avocados can be a satisfying addition to a calorie-controlled diet.
...antara fact about avocado yang pnh aku baca n jumpa.wow!best ke this fruit r vege ni..n one day,i bought at giant.rm3.00 sebiji u...mahal 2.ni like a prestij food la plak.teruja...belah...dan...makan...eeeee...ape ke rase nie.semacam jer..x manis pun.kejap rase lemak,kejap rasa masin...eeee...x beli dah.
...ari 2 kat cameron highland..singah kat kedai nyonya di ringlet..adik..ni buah avocado manyak sedap wooo...rm7.00 sekila.ALAMAK!murahnye...i bought 3 biji.balik umah...makan.ish..awat la sedap pulak..like u eat egg yolk.yum..yum..yum..i finished all.
...kemarin...pegi giant..teserempak avocado lagi.i bought 2.sebiji 2 masih raw.alamak..raw lg sedap dari masak...esok..nak beli lagi la..try la..sedap.