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An evergreen tree of the laurel family that bears a pulpy edible fruit. Avocados are a thick-skinned tropical fruit, often served at the beginning of a meal or in a salad. The flavor is an acquired taste amd the fruit is regarded as a delicacy.
They may be round, oval, or pear-shaped. It is 2 to 8 inches (5-20 cm) long and weighs a few ounces to 4 pounds (2 kg). The skin may be green, purple, deep red, or maroon and is usually thick and leathery. Enclosed in the shell-like skin is a greenish-yellow pulp, which surrounds a single large seed about the size of a plum. The pulp, which contains from 5 to 25 percent oil, is rich in protein, fats, and several vitamins. It has a buttery texture and a nutty flavor. Avocados are usually eaten raw in salads, desserts, and cold soups.
One variety grown in Australia is sometimes called the "avocado pear" because it is pear-shaped. But the avocado is not related to the pear. It belongs to the laurel family, Lauraceae. Avocados originally grew in tropical South and Central America. There are many kinds of avocado trees, each bearing fruit of a different size.
The avocado tree may grow 60 feet (18 meters) high and have wide-spreading foliage. It has dark-green, oval-shaped leaves 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) long, and it bears clusters of small greenish flowers. Leading producers of avocados are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. In the United States, they are produced chiefly in California and Florida. Most Australian avocados grow in Queensland, but they are havested as far south as the Murray-Darling river system.