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Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Avocados

Articles: Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Avocados

An avocado (Persea americana) at Rancho Los Cerritos. Author’s photographs

A recent archeological dig in Peru revealed avocado seeds buried with a mummy that dated back to the eighth century BC. The avocado’s recorded history jumps ahead to the various Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Maya, circa 250 AD, and the Aztecs, more than a thousand years later. A Mayan legend has a princess eating the “first” fruit. Another Mayan contribution is of a husband who discovered the end of the world by following the trail of young avocado trees that sprouted from the pits discarded by his wife and her lover. The Aztecs named the fruit ahuacatl, meaning testicle. This anatomical reference furthered the belief that the fruit possessed aphrodisiac properties. As a result, Aztec maidens were said to be secured indoors during the avocado harvest. Long before Europeans arrived, the native peoples had distributed the fruit throughout Mesoamerica so effectively that regional types were identified. The genus for avocado is Persea and the three main types are Mexican (P. americana var. drymifolia), Guatemalan (P. nubigena var. gua...

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