The avocado (
americana) is a tree, long thought to have
originated in South Central Mexico, classified as a member of
the flowering plant family Lauraceae.
(also alligator pear)
refers to the tree's fruit, which is botanically a large berry
containing a single large seed.
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, they ripen after harvesting.
are partially self-pollinating and are often propagated through
grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.
2.1 Regional names
4.1 Harvest and postharvest
4.3 Propagation and rootstocks
4.4 Growing indoors
4.6 Cultivation in Mexico
4.7 Cultivation in California
4.8 Cultivation in Peru
4.9 A cultivars
4.10 B cultivars
4.11 Other cultivars
4.11.1 Stoneless avocado
5 Production and consumption
6 Avocado-related international trade issues
7 Culinary uses
8 Nutritional value
8.1 Nutrients and fat composition
9 As a houseplant
Toxicity to animals
13 See also
16 Further reading
17 External links
Oaxaca criollo avocados, the ancestral form of today's
Persea americana, or the avocado, possibly originated in the Tehuacan
Valley in the state of Puebla, Mexico, 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. 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, achieving a wide range through human
agency before the arrival of the Europeans. The three separate
landraces were most likely to have already intermingled[a] in
pre-Columbian America and were described in the Florentine Codex.
Remains of an avocado plant were discovered in what is now Peru,
carbon-dated from 8,000 to 15,000 years ago in the
This evidence was found in an earth mound intended to be a ceremonial
structure called Huaca Prieta, 600 kilometers north of Lima, Peru. The
earliest residents were living in temporary camps in an ancient
wetland eating avocados, chilies, mollusks, sharks, birds, and sea
lions. The oldest discovery of an avocado pit comes from Coxcatlan
Cave, dating from around 9,000 to 10,000 years ago. Other caves
Tehuacan Valley from around the same time period also show
early evidence for the presence of avocado. There is evidence for
avocado use at
Norte Chico civilization
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.
The native, undomesticated variety is known as a criollo, and is
small, with dark black skin, and contains a large seed. It
probably coevolved with extinct megafauna. The avocado tree also
has a long history of cultivation in Central and South America, likely
beginning as early as 5,000 BC. A water jar shaped like an avocado,
dating to AD 900, was discovered in the pre-Incan city of Chan
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. The first detailed account that unequivocally describes
the avocado was given by
Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés
Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés in his
work Sumario de la natural historia de las Indias (es) in
1526. The first written record in English of the use of the word
'avocado' was by Hans Sloane, who coined the term in 1669, in a
1696 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to
Indonesia around 1750, Mauritius in 1780, Brazil in 1809, the
United States mainland in 1825, South Africa and Australia in the late
19th century, and Israel in 1908. In the United States, the avocado
was introduced to
Hawaii in 1833 and in
Before 1915, the avocado was commonly referred to in
ahuacate and in
Florida as alligator pear. In 1915, the California
Avocado Association introduced the then-innovative term avocado to
refer to the plant.
The word "avocado" comes from the Spanish aguacate, which in turn
comes from the
Nahuatl word āhuacatl [aːˈwakat͡ɬ], which goes
back to the proto-Aztecan *pa:wa which also meant "avocado".
Nahuatl word was used with the meaning "testicle",
probably because of the likeness between the fruit and the body
The modern English name comes from an English rendering of the Spanish
aguacate as avogato. The earliest known written use in English is
attested from 1697 as "avogato pear", a term which was later corrupted
as "alligator pear". Because the word avogato sounded like
"advocate", several languages reinterpreted it to have that meaning.
French uses avocat, which also means lawyer, and "advocate"-forms of
the word appear in several Germanic languages, such as the (now
obsolete) German Advogato-Birne, the old Danish advokat-pære (today
it is called "avocado") and the Dutch advocaatpeer.
In other Central American and Caribbean Spanish-speaking countries, it
is known by the Mexican name, while South American Spanish-speaking
countries use a Quechua-derived word, palta. 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).
Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in
ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Spanish
word guacamole derives.
In the United Kingdom, the term "avocado pear" is still sometimes
misused as applied when avocados first became commonly available in
Originating as a diminutive in Australian English, a clipped form,
"avo", has since become a common colloquialism in South Africa and the
It is known as "butter fruit" in parts of India and goes by the name
"bơ" [ɓɘː] in Vietnamese, which is the same word that is used for
butter. In eastern China, it is known as è lí ("alligator pear")
or huángyóu guǒ ("butter fruit"). In Taiwan, it is known as luò
lí or "cheese pear".
Persea americana, young avocado plant (seedling), complete with parted
pit and roots
The tree grows to 20 m (66 ft), with alternately arranged
leaves 12–25 cm (4.7–9.8 in) long. The flowers are
inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 5–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in)
wide. The pear-shaped fruit is 7–20 cm (2.8–7.9 in)
long, weighs between 100 and 1,000 g (3.5 and 35.3 oz), and
has a large central seed, 5–6.4 cm (2.0–2.5 in) long.
Botanically, the avocado fruit is a single-seeded berry, due to the
imperceptible endocarp covering the seed, rather than a drupe.
The subtropical species needs a climate without frost and with little
wind. High winds reduce the humidity, dehydrate the flowers, and
affect pollination. When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit
drop may occur, although the 'Hass' cultivar can tolerate temperatures
down to −1 °C. The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally
more than 1 m deep. Yield is reduced when the irrigation water is
highly saline. These soil and climate conditions are available in
southern and eastern Spain, Morocco, the Levant, South Africa,
Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, parts of central and northern Chile,
Vietnam, Indonesia, parts of southern India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New
Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Central America, the Caribbean,
Mexico, southern California, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida,
Hawaii, Ecuador, and Rwanda. Each region has different cultivars.
Harvest and postharvest
Commercial orchards produce an average of seven tonnes per hectare
each year, with some orchards achieving 20 tonnes per hectare.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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
A seedless avocado, or cuke, growing next to two regular avocados
The species is only partially able to self-pollinate because of
dichogamy in its flowering. This limitation, added to the long
juvenile period, makes the species difficult to breed. Most cultivars
are propagated by grafting, having originated from random seedling
plants or minor mutations derived from cultivars. Modern breeding
programs tend to use isolation plots where the chances of
cross-pollination are reduced. That is the case for programs at the
University of California, Riverside, as well as the Volcani Centre and
the Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias in Chile.
The avocado is unusual in that the timing of the male and female
flower phases differs among cultivars. The two flowering types are A
and B. A-cultivar flowers open as female on the morning of the first
day and close in late morning or early afternoon. Then they open as
male in the afternoon of the second day. B varieties open as female on
the afternoon of the first day, close in late afternoon and reopen as
male the following morning.
A cultivars: 'Hass', 'Gwen', 'Lamb Hass', 'Pinkerton', 'Reed'
B cultivars: 'Fuerte', 'Sharwil', 'Zutano', 'Bacon', 'Ettinger', 'Sir
Prize', 'Walter Hole'
Certain cultivars, such as the 'Hass', have a tendency to bear well
only in alternate years. After a season with a low yield, due to
factors such as cold (which the avocado does not tolerate well), the
trees tend to produce abundantly the next season. In addition, due to
environmental circumstances during some years, seedless avocados may
appear on the trees. Known in the avocado industry as "cukes",
they are usually discarded commercially due to their small size.
Propagation and rootstocks
Avocado is usually treated with a special technique to assist its
A young avocado sprout
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. 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). 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. 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
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Indoors, an avocado tree is usually grown from the pit of an avocado
fruit. This is often done by removing the pit from a ripe,
unrefrigerated avocado fruit. The pit is then stabbed with three or
four toothpicks, about one-third of the way up from the flat end. The
pit is placed in a jar or vase containing tepid water. It should split
in four to six weeks and yield roots and a sprout. If there is no
change by this time, the avocado pit is discarded. Once the stem has
grown a few inches, it is placed in a pot with soil. It should be
watered every few days. Avocados have been known to grow large, so
owners must be ready to re-pot the plant several times.
Main article: List of avocado diseases
P. americana, avocado plant flowers
Avocado trees are vulnerable to bacterial, viral, fungal, and
nutritional diseases (excesses and deficiencies of key minerals).
Disease can affect all parts of the plant, causing spotting, rotting,
cankers, pitting, and discoloration.
Cultivation in Mexico
Avocado production in Mexico
Mexico is by far the world's largest avocado growing country,
producing several times more than the second largest producer. In
2013, the total area dedicated to avocado production was 168,155
hectares (415,520 acres), and the harvest was 1.47 million tonnes.
The states that produce the most are México, Morelos, Nayarit,
Puebla, and Michoacan, accounting for 86% of the total. In Michoacán,
the cultivation is complicated by the existence of drug cartels that
extort protection fees from cultivators. They are reported to exact
2000 Mexican pesos per hectare from avocado farmers and 1 to 3
pesos/kg of harvested fruit.
Cultivation in California
The avocado was introduced from
California in the 19th
century, and has become a successful cash crop. About 59,000 acres
(240 km2) – some 95% of United States avocado production – is
located in Southern California, with 60% in San Diego County.
Fallbrook, California, claims the title of "
Avocado Capital of the
World" (also claimed by the town of
Uruapan in Mexico), and both
Fallbrook and Carpinteria, California, host annual avocado festivals.
Avocado is the official fruit of the State of California.
Cultivation in Peru
Hass avocado production in
Peru encompasses thousands of hectares in
central and western Peru.
Peru has now become the largest supplier
of avocados imported to the European Union and, more recently, has
begun to export avocados in significant quantities to North America.
Peru's location near the equator and along the Pacific Ocean creates
consistently mild temperatures year round. The soil is rich and sandy
and the towering Andes mountains provide a constant flow of pure water
for irrigation. Naturally sheltered as it is from heavy rain or
Peru is an almost perfect climate for the
cultivation of avocados.
Hass avocados from
Peru are seasonally available to consumers from May
through September and are promoted under the auspices of the Peruvian
Avocado Commission, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Avocado 'Choquette' grafted
A seedling from Miami, Florida. 'Choquette' bore large fruit of good
eating quality in large quantities and had good disease resistance,
and thus became a major cultivar. Today 'Choquette' is widely
propagated in south
Florida both for commercial growing and for home
A seedling bred from 'Hass' x 'Thille' in 1982, 'Gwen' is higher
yielding and more dwarfing than 'Hass' in California. The fruit has an
oval shape, slightly smaller than 'Hass' (100–200 g or
3.5–7.1 oz), with a rich, nutty flavor. The skin texture is
more finely pebbled than 'Hass', and is dull green when ripe. It is
frost-hardy down to −1 °C (30 °F).
Two 'Hass' avocados
The 'Hass' is the most common cultivar of avocado. It produces fruit
year-round and accounts for 80% of cultivated avocados in the
world. All 'Hass' trees are descended from a single "mother
tree" raised by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass, of La Habra
Heights, California. Hass patented the productive tree in
1935. The "mother tree", of uncertain subspecies, died of root rot and
was cut down in September, 2002. 'Hass' trees have
medium-sized (150–250 g or 5.3–8.8 oz), ovate fruit with
a black, pebbled skin. The flesh has a nutty, rich flavor with 19%
oil. A hybrid Guatemalan type can withstand temperatures to
−1 °C (30 °F).
A seedling reportedly grown from a 'Taft' avocado planted in Miami on
the property of George Cellon, it is named after Cellon's wife, Lula.
It was likely a cross between Mexican and Guatemalan types. 'Lula' was
recognized for its flavor and high oil content and propagated
commercially in Florida. It is also very commonly used as a rootstock
for nursery production, and is hardy to −4 °C (25 °F).
A relatively new cultivar, it was discovered in South Africa in the
early 1990s by Mr. A.G. (Dries) Joubert. It is a chance seedling of
First grown on the Pinkerton Ranch in Saticoy, California, in the
early 1970s, 'Pinkerton' is a seedling of 'Hass' x 'Rincon'. The large
fruit has a small seed, and its green skin deepens in color as it
ripens. The thick flesh has a smooth, creamy texture, pale green
color, good flavor, and high oil content. It shows some cold
tolerance, to −1 °C (30 °F) and bears consistently heavy
crops. A hybrid Guatemalan type, it has excellent peeling
Developed from a chance seedling found in 1948 by James S. Reed in
California, this cultivar has large, round, green fruit with a smooth
texture and dark, thick, glossy skin. Smooth and delicate, the flesh
has a slightly nutty flavor. The skin ripens green. A Guatemalan type,
it is hardy to −1 °C (30 °F).
Tree size is about 5 by
4 m (16.4 by 13.1 ft).
Developed by a farmer, James Bacon, in 1954, Bacon has medium-sized
fruit with smooth, green skin with yellow-green, light-tasting flesh.
When ripe, the skin remains green, but darkens slightly, and fruit
yields to gentle pressure. It is cold-hardy down to −5 °C
Possibly a cross between Mexican and West Indian types, 'Brogden'
originated as a seedling grown in Winter Haven, Florida, on the
property of Tom W. Brogden. The variety was recognized for its
cold-hardiness to −5 °C (23 °F) and became commercially
propagated as nursery stock for home growing. It is noted for its dark
purple skin at maturity.
A Mexican/Guatemalan cross seedling of 'Fuerte', this cultivar
originated in Israel, and was put into production there in 1947.
Mature trees tolerate four hours at −6 °C (21 °F). The
fruit has a smooth, thin, green skin that does not peel easily. The
flesh is very pale green.
Avocado fruit (cv. 'Fuerte'); left: whole, right: in section
A Mexican/Guatemalan cross originating in Puebla, the 'Fuerte' earned
its name, which means strong in Spanish, after it withstood a severe
California in 1913. Hardy to −3 °C (27 °F), it
has medium-sized, pear-shaped fruit with a green, leathery,
easy-to-peel skin. The creamy flesh of mild and rich flavor has 18%
oil. The skin ripens green.
Tree size is 6 by 4 m (19.7 by
A Guatemalan/West Indian cross that originated from a seedling grown
in Homestead, Florida, on the property of J.J.L. Phillips, it was
patented in 1937 and became a major commercial cultivar due to its
cold hardiness and production qualities. The fruit is large, averaging
over 2 lb (0.91 kg) in weight, has an elliptical shape, and
green, glossy skin. Hardy to −3 °C (27 °F).
Predominantly Guatemalan, with some Mexican race genes, 'Sharwil' was
developed in 1951 by Sir Frank Sharpe at Redland Bay, southern
Queensland. The name "Sharwil" is an amalgamation of Sharpe and Wilson
(J.C. Wilson being the first propagator). Scions were sent from
Hawaii in 1966. A medium-sized fruit with rough green
skin, it closely resembles the 'Fuerte', but is slightly more oval in
shape. The fruit has greenish-yellow flesh with a rich, nutty flavor
and high oil content (20–24%), and a small seed. The skin is green
when ripe. It represents more than 57% of the commercial farming in
Hawaii, and represents up to 20% of all avocados grown in New South
Wales, Australia. It is a regular and moderate bearer with excellent
quality fruit, but is sensitive to frost. Disease and pest resistance
are superior to 'Fuerte'.
Originated by R.L. Ruitt in Fallbrook in 1926, this Mexican variety is
hardy to −4 °C (25 °F). The large, pear-shaped fruit has
a shiny, thin, yellow-green skin that peels moderately easily. The
flesh is pale green with fibers and has a light flavor.
Other avocado cultivars include 'Spinks'. Historically attested
varieties (which may or may not survive among horticulturists) include
the 'Challenge', 'Dickinson', 'Kist', 'Queen', 'Rey', 'Royal',
'Sharpless', and 'Taft'.
A stoneless avocado, marketed as a "cocktail avocado," which does not
contain a pit, is available on a limited basis. They are five to eight
centimetres long; the whole fruit may be eaten, including the skin. It
is produced from an unpollinated blossom in which the seed does not
develop. Seedless avocados regularly appear on trees. Known in
the avocado industry as "cukes", they are usually discarded
commercially due to their small size.
Production and consumption
Avocado production – 2016
Production (millions of tonnes)
FAOSTAT of the United Nations
In 2016, world production of avocados was 5.6 million tonnes, led by
Mexico alone with 34% (1.89 million tonnes) of the total (table).
Other major producers were Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia, and
Indonesia, together producing 30% of the world total (table). In
Europe, the only country producing avocados is
Spain which exports 80%
of its total volume.
Avocado-related international trade issues
First international air shipment of avocados from Los Angeles,
California, to Toronto, Ontario, for the Canadian National Exhibition
North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect
Mexico tried exporting avocados to the US. The US government
resisted, claiming the trade would introduce
Tephritidae fruit flies
that would destroy California's crops. The Mexican government
responded by inviting USDA inspectors to Mexico, but the US government
declined, claiming fruit fly inspection was not feasible. The Mexican
government then proposed to sell avocados only to the northeastern US
in the winter (fruit flies cannot withstand extreme cold). The US
government balked, but gave in when the Mexican government started
erecting barriers to US corn.
Selling avocados in Santo Domingo, DR
Today, avocados from
Mexico are allowed throughout the US, because
USDA inspectors in
Michoacán (where 90% of 'Hass' avocados from
Mexico are grown) inspected fruit in Uruapan.[clarification
needed] Imports from
Mexico in the 2005–2006 season
exceeded 130,000 metric tons (143,300 short tons; 127,900 long
Mexico as an exporter of avocados to
In the US, avocados are grown in
California and Florida, where land,
labor, and water are expensive.
Avocado trees require frequent, deep
watering to bear optimally, particularly in spring, summer, and fall.
Due to increased Southern
California water costs, they are now costly
California produces 90% of the United States' avocados.
As of 2013,
Mexico leads international exports, with other significant
production in California, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa.
See also: List of avocado dishes
Avocado salad, and a tomato and black olive salsa, on a toasted
The fruit of horticultural cultivars has a markedly higher fat content
than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat, and as such serves
as an important staple in the diet of consumers who have limited
access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy products).
Having a high smoke point, avocado oil is expensive compared to common
salad and cooking oils, and mostly used for salads or dips.
A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure when held in the palm of the
hand and squeezed. The flesh is prone to enzymatic browning, quickly
turning brown after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or
lemon juice can be added to avocados after peeling.
Indonesian-style avocado milkshake with chocolate syrup
The fruit is not sweet, but distinctly and subtly flavored, with
smooth texture. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes, though
in many countries not for both. The avocado is popular in vegetarian
cuisine as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of
its high fat content.
Generally, avocado is served raw, though some cultivars, including the
common 'Hass', can be cooked for a short time without becoming bitter.
Caution should be used when cooking with untested cultivars; the flesh
of some avocados may be rendered inedible by heat. Prolonged cooking
induces this chemical reaction in all cultivars.
A guacamole mix (right) used as a dip for tortilla chips (left).
It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as
well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast, served with spices.
In the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and southern India
(especially the coastal Kerala, Tamil Nadu and
avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to
ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines
and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and
Chocolate syrup is sometimes added. In Morocco, a
similar chilled avocado and milk drink is sweetened with
confectioner's sugar and hinted with orange flower water.
In Ethiopia, avocados are made into juice by mixing them with sugar
and milk or water, usually served with
Vimto and a slice of lemon. It
is also common to serve layered multiple fruit juices in a glass
(locally called Spris) made of avocados, mangoes, bananas, guavas, and
papayas. Avocados are also used to make salads.
Avocados in savory dishes, often seen as exotic, are a relative
novelty in Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil, where the
traditional preparation is mashed with sugar and lime, and eaten as a
dessert or snack. This contrasts with Spanish-speaking countries such
as Chile, Mexico, or Argentina, where the opposite is true and sweet
preparations are rare.
In Australia and New Zealand, it is commonly served in sandwiches,
sushi, on toast, or with chicken. In Ghana, it is often eaten alone in
sliced bread as a sandwich. In Sri Lanka, well-ripened flesh,
thoroughly mashed with sugar and milk, or treacle (a syrup made from
the nectar of a particular palm flower) is a popular dessert. In
Haiti, it is often consumed with cassava or regular bread for
Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white
rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Peru,
they are consumed with tequeños as mayonnaise, served as a side dish
with parrillas, used in salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when
filled with tuna, shrimp, or chicken. In Chile, it is used as a
puree-like sauce with chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs; and in slices
for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of Caesar salad
contains large slices of mature avocado. In
Kenya and Nigeria, the
avocado is often eaten as a fruit eaten alone or mixed with other
fruits in a fruit salad, or as part of a vegetable salad.
Avocado is a primary ingredient in avocado soup.
Avocado slices are
frequently added to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada.
Avocado can be combined with eggs (in scrambled eggs, tortillas, or
omelettes), and is a key ingredient in
California rolls and other
makizushi ("maki", or rolled sushi).
In the United Kingdom, the avocado became available during the 1960s
when introduced by
Sainsbury's under the name 'avocado pear'.
Unusual avocado variety from Cebu, Philippines
In addition to the fruit, the leaves of Mexican avocados (Persea
americana var. drymifolia) are used in some cuisines as a spice, with
a flavor somewhat reminiscent of anise. They are sold
both dried and fresh, toasted before use, and either crumbled or used
whole, commonly in bean dishes. Leaves of P. americana, Guatemalan
variety, are toxic to goats, sheep, and horses.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
670 kJ (160 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Link to USDA Database entry
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Nutrients and fat composition
A typical serving of avocado (100 g) is moderate to rich in several B
vitamins and vitamin K, with good content of vitamin C, vitamin E and
potassium (right table, USDA nutrient data). Avocados also contain
phytosterols and carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
Avocados have diverse fats. For a typical avocado:
About 75% of an avocado's energy comes from fat, most of which (67% of
total fat) is monounsaturated fat as oleic acid.
Other predominant fats include palmitic acid and linoleic acid.
The saturated fat content amounts to 14% of the total fat.
Typical total fat composition is roughly: 1% ω-3, 14% ω-6,
71% ω-9 (65% oleic and 6% palmitoleic), and 14% saturated fat
Although costly to produce, nutrient-rich avocado oil has diverse uses
for salads or cooking and in cosmetics and soap products.
As a houseplant
Avocado houseplant leaf with ruler to indicate size
The avocado tree can be grown domestically and used as a (decorative)
houseplant. The pit germinates in normal soil conditions or partially
submerged in a small glass (or container) of water. In the latter
method, the pit sprouts in four to six weeks, at which time it is
planted in standard houseplant potting soil. The plant normally grows
large enough to be prunable; it does not bear fruit unless it has
ample sunlight. Home gardeners can graft a branch from a fruit-bearing
plant to speed maturity, which typically takes four to six years to
Some people have allergic reactions to avocado. There are two main
forms of allergy: those with a tree-pollen allergy develop local
symptoms in the mouth and throat shortly after eating avocado; the
second, known as latex-fruit syndrome, is related to latex
allergy and symptoms include generalised urticaria, abdominal
pain, and vomiting and can sometimes be life-threatening.
Toxicity to animals
Avocado leaves, bark, skin, or pit are documented to be harmful to
animals; cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs,
birds, fish, and horses can be severely harmed or even killed
when they consume them. The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds,
and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(ASPCA) lists it as toxic to horses.
Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative, persin, which in
sufficient quantity can cause colic in horses and without veterinary
treatment, death. The symptoms include gastrointestinal
irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, congestion,
fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart, and even death.
Birds also seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound. A
line of premium dog and cat food, AvoDerm, uses oils and meal made
from avocado meat as main ingredients. The manufacturer says the
avocado's leaves and pit are the source of toxicity, and only in the
Guatemalan variety of avocados, and the fruit is often eaten by
orchard dogs as well as wildlife such as bears and coyotes.
In 1982, evolutionary biologist
Daniel H. Janzen
Daniel H. Janzen concluded that the
avocado is an example of an 'evolutionary anachronism', a fruit
adapted for ecological relationship with now-extinct large mammals
(such as giant ground sloths or gomphotheres). Most large fleshy
fruits serve the function of seed dispersal, accomplished by their
consumption by large animals. There are some reasons to think that the
fruit, with its mildly toxic pit, may have coevolved with Pleistocene
megafauna to be swallowed whole and excreted in their dung, ready to
sprout. No extant native animal is large enough to effectively
disperse avocado seeds in this fashion.
Florida Lime &
Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul
List of avocado dishes
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Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Media related to
Persea americana at Wikimedia Commons
The dictionary definition of avocado at Wiktionary
Definitive illustrated list of avocado varieties
Fruit Growers, avocados beyond
Plant List: kew-2529835