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Persea gratissima.

Botanical name:

Persea gratissima Gaertn. f. Lauraceae. Abacate. Ahuacate. Alligator Pear. Avocado. Avocate. Vegetable Marrow.

A tree of tropical America. The avocado has been naturalized on the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius since 1758. In Brazil, it is one of the most highly-prized fruits. The fruit is like a large pear, with a green, leathery rind and a tender, juicy flesh which incloses a hard nut. The flesh, made into a sauce with citron juice and sugar, has a delightful taste. In itself, the flesh is insipid but tender and soft, tasting like artichokes. Moritz Wagner says it may be called vegetable butter as it melts upon the tongue. Arruda says the fruit is very pleasant and that there are in Brazil two varieties, one of which is called cayenne.

Morelet says the variety in Central America called avocate is a pulpy fruit with a thin, smooth, leathery skin of a green color, spotted with red, resembling much a large pear. It contains a large, oval stone, which, when the fruit ripens and is ready to eat, becomes loose and rattles in its center. The pulp is of a delicate coffee color, unctuous, without odor, resembles fresh butter and is eaten with a spoon. This fruit is rarely palatable at first to the stranger, but it finally recommends itself by its wonderfully delicate, agreeable and peculiar flavor. The second variety is called by the Indians omtchon.

It differs from the first by the contraction of the part nearest the stem, by its sharp, conic base, by its thick, wrinkled, light green skin and by the tenacity with which the skin adheres to the pulp. A third kind is also known, called anison.

It is not as highly esteemed as the others and has a very strong, peculiar odor. In Jamaica, says Long, there are two species, the green and the red, the latter preferred, but the quality of the fruit varies; that produced in a wild state is small and often bitter. The pulp is in universal esteem and is called by some vegetable marrow and is generally eaten with sugar and lime juice or pepper and salt. It has a delicate, rich flavor. Lunan says few people relish the fruit at first but it soon becomes agreeable. In an immature state, the fruit is very dangerous. It is cultivated to a limited extent in south Florida.


Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.



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