Common name: Avocado
Botanical name: Persea americana
Aspect and soil: Sun; well-drained soil
Best climate: Tropical, subtropical, temperate
Habit: Evergreen tree 3–10m+ tall
Propagation: Grafted; seed-grown varieties may not come true
Avocados are rewarding trees for a backyard orchard, particularly in warm climates. The trees are shady and their bountiful fruit is not only delicious but packed with good nutrition and easy to eat. Palatable to most people, they are often used as an early solid food for babies.
Avocados are native to Central America, including the West Indies, Guatemala and Mexico, so they feature in many local dishes such as the smooth, green dip called guacamole, made with lime juice, red onion, garlic, chilli and coriander.
One of the reasons avocado tastes smooth and creamy is that, unlike most other fruits, it contains fat — but a fat classified as a “good” fat, as this form of mono-unsaturated fatty acid doesn’t contain cholesterol.
It can even help to lower blood cholesterol levels as it may be used as a substitute for butter or margarine on toast or sandwiches.
Avocados also contain folate, and vitamins E, C, B6 and many other B vitamins including niacin and riboflavin: all top reasons to grow and eat your own.
The traditional avocado is a large, dark-green, leafy tree but there are also smaller forms ideal for backyard orchards, courtyards or container growing.
Many avocado trees are seed grown, but seed-grown plants can take seven to 10 years to produce a crop. On top of that, the fruit may not be the same as the fruit from which the seed was taken.
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