Folk Names: Ahuacotl (Aztec - Testicle Tree), Alligator Pear, Avocado Pear, Persea
Description: The avocado tree is a member of the laurel family and is the only tree in the family to produce edible fruit. It is native to Central America, but has spread throughout many tropical and subtropical countries. The erect branching evergreen trees grow up to sixty-five feet. The avocado has elliptical or lanceolate leaves, acuminate with short stalk. They are leathery and strongly veined and remain on the tree for two to three years. Little greenish flowers appear in dense terminal panicles. Depending upon the variety, these flowers will produce a big, fleshy, pear-shaped drupes with green skin which may be smooth or rough. The bipartite seed is large, and also may be pear shaped. An avocado tree will grow in any good, well-drained soil, and need some protection from strong winds.
Avocado wood is perfect for love, lust, and fertility wands. The earliest record of avocado use came from an archaeological dig in Peru. Avocado seeds were found buried with a mummy and dated back to the 8th Century BCE. One theory is that these early people wanted the seeds buried with them because their aphrodisiac qualities might be useful in the afterlife.
The Aztecs ate the avocado for lust. The plant may easily be grown from the pit to bring love to your home, and the pit may also be carried to promote beauty.
Medical Indications: (Note: Unripe avocados are said to be toxic. The leaves of some avocado varieties are also considered toxic.) Parts Used: fruit, leaves
Avocado has the highest fat content of any fruit. It is also a good source of sulfur, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, and B2. For this reason, it is an excellent moisturizer. Mashing an avocado and rubbing it into your hair for five minutes after washing will add luster to your hair, and the powdered seeds have been utilized as a dandruff treatment. Make a facial mask of mashed avocado (honey and lime may also be added), and heat it in a double boiler. Apply it to your face while it is still warm (but not hot). Koreans blend them with milk to create a lotion for facial and body massages. Apply avocado oil to your skin to relieve itchy, red, or irritated areas caused by eczema or dermatitis, and oil from the seed has also been applied to skin eruptions.
The skin of the avocado has been used as an antibiotic, to ease dysentery and rid the intestinal tract of parasites. Leaf juices and concoctions have been employed as antibiotics, treatments for hypertension, diarrhea, sore throat, and to regulate menstruation. The seeds may also be roasted and pulverized to create treatments for diarrhea and dysentery.
The leaves may be chewed as a treatment for pyorrhea, and they have been applied as poultices to wounds. Heated, they are placed on the forehead to relieve neuralgia. Juice concoctions have been used for digestive tonics, cough remedies, and abortifacients. Pieces of seed may be placed in tooth cavities as a toothache remedy.
Around the world, people have found diverse uses for this fruit. In some countries avocados are used in desserts. Brazilians put them into ice cream, and Filipinos puree them with sugar and milk to make a dessert drink. The Taiwanese also eat them with milk and sugar. Jamaicans create cold avocado soup. Nigerians stuff them with cheese, throw them into a batter, and bake them. However, avocados are usually eaten raw because the tannins they contain result in a bitter flavor when cooked over high heat.
Avocados are essential in making guacamole. The word Aztec word for avocado, ahuacatl, was compounded with others, such as ahuacamolli, meaning “avocado soup or sauce.” It was from this word that the Spanish-Mexican word guacamole derives.
In the 1700's English seamen discovered that the avocado could be used as a spread to soften the hardtack they had for meals. The avocado spread soon became known as "midshipman's butter."
There are three main cultivated varieties of avocado. The Mexican variety bears purple or black fruit the size of a plum with a smooth skin and yellow-green flesh. The leaves of this tree have an intense anise flavor, and dried, they are used to season black bean dishes. It is the hardiest of the avocado trees with its fruit harvested in the fall.
The Guatamalan avocados may either be purple, black, or green with a rough skin and are larger than the Mexican ones. They are harvested in the spring or summer. The leaves have a medicinal use.
The West Indian type bears the largest fruit with some avocados weighing over twp pounds. The skin is smooth and usually light green. The leaves have no scent.
In addition to being a popular plantation tree in Central and South America, it is grown extensively in California.
The Quetzal bird was an important element of early Central American mythology, and Aztec royalty wore headdresses including plumes removed from live-trapped males (which could then be released to grow new feathers with their next molt). Guatemalans so revere the Quetzal that they chose it as the national bird, and even named their monetary unit the "quetzal". The Quetzals rely heavily on the fruit of wild avocados for food. The fruits are swallowed whole, and the large seeds, still viable, are often regurgitated at some distance from the source tree. Because Quetzals are among the only frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds able to eat these large fruits, it is thought that the wild avocados are reliant on them to disperse their seeds.
The Conquistadors discovered a unique use for the avocado seed. The seed yields a milky liquid that becomes red when exposed to air. The Spaniards found they could use this reddish brown or even blackish indelible liquid as ink to be used on documents. Some of these documents are still in existence today. An ointment made from the mashed seed has been used for women's makeup to redden their cheeks.