The avocado, or Persea americana, is a tree native to Central America and Mexico. It produces pear-shaped fruit that ranges 7 to 20 cm long and weighs between 100-1000 grams. It has a large central seed, 3-5 cm in diameter. An average avocado tree produces about 120 avocados annually. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear, from its shape and green skin. The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and so can be grown only in subtropical and tropical climates.
The avocado fruit does not ripen on the tree, but will fall off in a hard, green state, and will quickly ripen on the ground. The fruit is picked once it reaches a mature size, and will then ripen in a few days. The fruit can be left on the tree until required, rather than picked and stored, but for commercial reasons it must be picked up as soon as possible. If the fruit stays on the tree for too long it will fall on to the ground.
Guacamole, a dish that uses mashed avocados, is probably the most popular dish using the avocado.
• alligator pear
• avocado pear
• Persea americana
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