Persea americana: Avocado

Family: Lauraceae
Common name: Avocado

Avocados are a more recent entry into the India cuisine, but is fast becoming a hot favorite. From guacamole to salads to smoothies, Indians are now embracing this wonder fruit like never before. Avocados are rich in protein and good fat, low in carbs and a storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals.

Avocado trees grow to about 20 meters and produce a burst of fruits during July-September. The fruits are pear or egg-shaped with a single large seed. They mature on the tree, but ripen after they are plucked, usually within 1-2 weeks depending on the variety of fruit and the temperature of storage. In India it’s mostly grown in the South Indian states of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka, due to the warmer weather.

Avocados vary in weight from 100 gms to 1 kg, but the average weight of Indian varieties of 200-300 gms. Trees start bearing fruits about 5 years after planting and could yield up to 500 fruits per season.

Fruits vary from thin-skinned varieties, to thick-skinned and warty-skinned ones. Harvesting has to be done very carefully so that the fruits are mature, and start ripening in 1-2 weeks. The most common cultivar grown world-wide is the ‘Hass’, which produces fruits throughout the year. It’s said that all Hass avocado trees originated from a single mother plant in California.

Avocados are mostly eaten raw; or used in salads, dips, milk shakes, spreads, soups etc. Avocado oil is also used in salads and dips due to good mono-saturated fats contained in it. Avocado leaves are also used as flavoring in different cuisines. Leaves and fruits are toxic to some pet animals and birds.

Propagation is through seeds or grafts from the mother tree.
Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Kabugo, Nur Afni Setiyaningrum

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