Avocado - Persea americana  Miller
'Brogdon'
Fig. 1 
'Brogdon'

'Russell'
Fig. 2 
'Russell'

Leaves
Fig. 3 magnifying glass

Avocado foliage
Fig. 4 magnifying glass

Avocado new growth
Fig. 5 magnifying glass
Avocado new growth

Avocado inflorescense
Fig. 6 
Avocado inflorescense

Avocado inflorescense close up
Fig. 7 magnifying glass
Avocado inflorescense close up

Grafted 2 year old tree in bloom
Fig. 8 
Grafted 2 year old tree in bloom

Fruit beginning to form
Fig. 9 magnifying glass
Fruit beginning to form

Fruit
Fig. 10 magnifying glass

Avocado bark
Fig. 11 

Protecting the fruit from pests
Fig. 12 magnifying glass
Protecting the fruit from pests

Avocado tree espaliered
Fig. 13 magnifying glass
Avocado tree espaliered

New growth on young tree
Fig. 14 magnifying glass
New growth on young tree

The seed of Persea americana sprouting
Fig. 15 
The seed of Persea americana sprouting

Scientific name
Persea americana Miller
Pronunciation
PER-see-uh uh-mair-ih-KAY-nuh
Common names
Avocado-pear, Alligator Pear, Midshipman's Butter, Vegetable Butter, or sometimes as Butter Pear, and called by Spanish-speaking people Aguacate, Cura, Cupandra, or Palta; in Portuguese, Abacate; in French, Avocatier
Synonyms
Laurus persea L.; P. drymifolia Schltdl. & Cham.; P. nubigena L.O.Wiliams; P. persea (L.) Cockerell
Relatives
P. schiedeana Nees; a more distant relative is Beilschmiedia anay Kosterm
Family
Lauraceae
Origin
Not native to North America; three ecological races Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian are recognized
USDA hardiness zones
9B through 11
Uses
Shade; fruit; specimen
Height
30-40 ft (9.1 to19.8 m)
Spread
25-35 ft (7.6 to 10.6m)
Crown
Canopy ranges from low, dense and symmetrical to upright and asymmetrical
Growth rate
Fast
Trunk/bark/branches
Limbs are easily broken by strong winds or heavy crop loads; branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk
Pruning requirement
Needed for strong structure
Leaves
Evergreen; 3-16 in. (7.6-41.0 cm); elliptic, oval, lanceolate; often hairy, reddish when young, then smooth, leathery, dark green; litter issue
Flowers
Flowers not showy; green; spring or winter; perfect flowers but at different times of day so need insect pollination
Fruit
Oval; 3-6 in (7.6-15.2 cm); fleshy; green, purple; litter problem
USDA Nutrient Content pdf 6 pages
Season
May-Feb. according to variety
Light requirement
Full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances
Clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
PH preference
5.5-7.0
Drought tolerance
Moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance
Moderate
Cold tolerance
16ºF -28ºF for mature trees depending on variety
Plant spacing
23-30 ft or more (7.0 to 9.1 m) away from buildings and other trees
Roots
Damage potential rated as low
Invasive potential *
Little invasive potential
Pest/disease resistance
Resistant to pests/diseases; susceptible to verticillium wilt
Known hazard
The foliage is toxic



Reading Material

Persea americana: Avocado from the University of Florida pdf
Avocado Growing in the Florida Home Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 12 pages
Avocado from CTARH University of Hawaii pdf
Avocado from the California Rare Fruit Growers
Avocado from Julia Morton's Book: Fruits of Warm Climates



Origin

Avocados are indigenous to tropical America. The Mexican race originated in the Mexican highlands, the Guatemalan race originated in the highlands of Guatemala and the West Indian race originated in the tropic lowlands of Central America.

Description
The large, lustrous dark green evergreen leaves and low-branching, open canopy of Avocado makes it a wonderful shade tree but it is most often grown for the abundant production of its well-known, delicious, buttery fruits. 1

Races and cultivars
The avocados cultivated in the United States are classified horticulturally in three races: the West Indian, the Guatemalan, and the Mexican. The West Indian and Guatemalan races, so far as can be judged at present, are two expressions of one botanical species, Persea americana, while the Mexican race represents a distinct species, P. drymifolia.
Horticultural varieties of the avocado, when propagated from seed, do not reproduce the parent fruit in every detail. 3

Avocado Race Page

Characteristics of West Indian, Guatemalan, and Mexican races of avocados

Flowers
The many-flowered lateral inflorescences (structures that hold the flowers) are borne in a pseudoterminal position. The central axis of the inflorescence terminates in a shoot. Flowers are perfect, yellowish-green, and 3/8 to 1/2 inch (1 to 1.3 cm) in diameter. 2

Fruit
The fruit is a berry, consisting of a single large seed, surrounded by a buttery pulp. Florida avocado varieties contain 3 to 15% oil. The skin is variable in thickness and texture. Fruit color at maturity may be green, black, purple or reddish, depending on variety. Fruit shape ranges from spherical to pyriform, and the fruit weigh from a few ounces to 5 lbs (2.3 kg). The fruit does not generally ripen until it falls or is picked from the tree. In Florida, the fruit is considered sufficiently mature for harvest when it reaches a specified calendar date and weight or size. The specific dates, weights, and sizes used to determine maturity vary by variety. 2

Varieties recommended for Florida

Cultivar Viewer 4

Harvest Calendar
Avocado fruits do not ripen on the tree. In general, avocado varieties may be harvested anytime during their season of maturity.
The fruit from an avocado tree does not all have to be harvested at the same time. This feature allows you to leave the fruit on the tree and pick fruit only when you want to eat it. 2

Pollination
Avocado flowers are bisexual, however, the female and male flower parts function at different times of the day. Varieties are classified into A and B types according to the time of day when the female and male flower parts become reproductively functional. New evidence indicates avocado flowers may be both self- and cross-pollinated under Florida conditions. Self-pollination occurs during the second flower opening when pollen from the anthers is transferred to the stigma of the female flower parts. 2
More...

Propagation
Most avocado varieties do not come true from seed (i.e., a seed will not render the same variety), so they must be propagated vegetatively. Cleft grafting is the preferred method of propagation in Florida, although veneer grafting is also used. Young, vigorously growing seedlings are used for rootstocks, and terminals of leafy shoots are used for scion material. Grafting is most successful during the cooler months from November through February or March, but can be done from June through March if plant material is available. 2
More...

Planting
In general, avocados should be planted in the warmest areas of the State, i.e., along the southeast and southwest coasts of Florida. West Indian and some hybrid types are the least cold tolerant and do best only in areas that rarely experience freezing temperatures.
Remember avocado trees can become very large if not pruned to contain their size. Select the warmest area of the landscape that does not flood (or remain wet) after typical summer rainfall events. 2

Pruning
The amount of pruning required by the avocado depends largely on the variety. Some make short stocky growths and form shapely trees without the assistance of the pruning-shears, while others take long straggling shapes and do not branch sufficiently to form a good crown. These latter must be cut back heavily. 3

Avocado Pruning from Winson Popenoe's Book: Manual of Tropical and Sub Tropical Fruits

Fertilizing
Young trees should be fertilized every 1 to 2 months during the first year, beginning with 1/4 lb (114 g) of fertilizer and increasing to 1 lb (455 g) per tree. Thereafter, 3 or 4 applications per year in amounts proportionate to the increasing size of the tree are sufficient but, not to exceed 20 lbs per tree per year. 2

Irrigation
Newly planted avocado trees should be watered at planting and every other day for the first week or so and then 1 to 2 times a week for the first couple of months. During prolonged dry periods (e.g., 5 or more days of little to no rainfall) newly planted and young avocado trees (first 3 years) should be well watered twice a week. Once the rainy season arrives, irrigation frequency may be reduced or stopped. 2

Pests
Mites and scale infestations can become quite serious in local areas

Diseases
Root rots on poorly-drained soils and leaf-spotting diseases can be troublesome

Food Uses
Avocado halves are perfect natural containers for appetizers, lunches, or light dinners. Seafood salad, curried chicken, or fresh fruit salad are just a few great fillers. Avocado slices, cubes, or balls are great salad additions.
Oil expressed from the flesh is rich in vitamins A, B, G and E. It has a digestibility coefficient of 93.8% but has remained too costly to be utilized extensively as salad oil. The amino acid content has been reported as: palmitic, 7.0; stearic, 1.0; oleic, 79.0; linoleic, 13.0. The oil has excellent keeping quality. 5
Browning of the flesh of freshly cut avocado fruits is caused by polyphenol oxidase
isoenzymes. 7

South Florida Tropicals: Avocado from the University of Florida pdf
Avocado Recipes from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium
California Avocado Commission Recipes ext. link
 
Medicinal Uses **
The fruit skin is antibiotic; is employed as a vermifuge and remedy for dysentery. The leaves are chewed as a remedy for pyorrhea. Leaf poultices are applied on wounds. Heated leaves are applied on the forehead to relieve neuralgia. The leaf juice has antibiotic activity. The aqueous extract of the leaves has a prolonged hypertensive effect. The leaf decoction is taken as a remedy for diarrhea, sore throat and hemorrhage; it allegedly stimulates and regulates menstruation. It is also drunk as a stomachic. In Cuba, a decoction of the new shoots is a cough remedy. If leaves, or shoots of the purple-skinned type, are boiled, the decoction serves as an abortifacient. Sometimes a piece of the seed is boiled with the leaves to make the decoction.
The seed is cut in pieces, roasted and pulverized and given to overcome diarrhea and dysentery. The powdered seed is believed to cure dandruff. A piece of the seed, or a bit of the decoction, put into a tooth cavity may relieve toothache. An ointment made of the pulverized seed is rubbed on the face as a rubefacient—to redden the cheeks. An oil extracted from the seed has been applied on skin eruptions. 7

Other Uses
Shade; fruit; specimen

Avocado Videos from the University of Florida Website Fruitscapes
Avocados make for an ideal tropical plant.  Not only do they produce a great edible fruit but also provide shade and ornamental value.  This short video provides some insight into the Avocado but please see the other videos and publications on this page for more detailed information.
More... ext. link

Avocado distribution map 
Fig. 16 
Avocado distribution map


Further Reading
Avocado Information from the University of California ANR ext. link
California Avocado Commission, Irvine, CA ext. link
How to Choose Avocados
How to Grow your Own from Seed
Toxicity of Avocado from the Tropical Fruit News magazine Miami Rare Fruit Council International
Uncommon Uses of Avocado from the Tropical Fruit News magazine Miami Rare Fruit Council International
Free, virtual library of avocado knowledge at Avocadosource.com ext. link
Avocado Botanical Art


List of Growers and Vendors
Bibliography

1 Gilman, Edward F. and Watson, Dennis G. "Persea americana." hort.ifas.ufl.edu. Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. October 1994. Reviewed June 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
2 Crane, Johathan H., Carlos F Balerdi and Ian Maquire. "Avocados Growing in the Home Landscape." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. July 2013. Revised Sept. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
3 Popenoe, Wilson, 1920. The"Manual Of Tropical And Subtropical Fruits." chestofbooks.com. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.
4 "Tropical Fruit Management Program - Solutions for your Life." trec.ifas.ufl.edu. Tropical Research and Education (TREC). N.d. Web. Oct.12 2014.
5 Simonne, Amy, Linda B. Cooper, Sandra Poirier, Mildred Murphy, Mary Jo Oswald, and Chris Procise. "South Florida Tropicals: Avocado." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Published May 1993. Reviewed Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
6 "Avocado Overview, Fruitscapes." trec.ifas.ufl.edu. Tropical Research and Education (TREC). N.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
7 Morton, J. "Avocado". hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of Warm Climates, p. 91-102. 1987. Web. 26 March 2014.

Photographs

Fig. 1,8,9,11,12 Jackson, Karen. "Avocado Series." 2013. growables.org. JPG file.
Fig. 2 Robitaille, Liette. "'Russell' avocado." 2015. growables.org. Visit to Unbelievable Acres Botanical Garden. JPG file.
Fig. 3,6,7 Maguire, Ian. 2013. Avocados Growing in the Florida Home Landscapeedis.ifas.ufl.edu Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Fig. 8,14 Persea americana, Persea gratissima. N.d. Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog.  toptropicals.com. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Fig. 4,5,10 Ritter, M., Mark, W. and Reimer, J. SelecTree. Persea americana Tree Record. 1995-2015. selectree.calpoly.edu. Web 15 Oct.2015.
Fig. 15 Bff. The seedling of Persea americana. 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
Fig. 16 Wunderlin, R. P., B. F. Hansen, A. R. Franck, and F. B. Essig. Species Distribution Map: Persea americana. N.d. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=389. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 12 Apr. 2014 LR. Last update 24 Apr. 2017 LR
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