Avocados have become an everyday staple for many people. We nosh on avocado toast for breakfast and blend avocado smoothie bowls at snack time … but have you ever stopped to wonder where avocados come from? Do they grow on trees? Or do the perfect orbs of green goodness drop straight from the heavens for us to enjoy?
Find out the answer to this and all your existential avo questions here.
Luckily, the answer is yes! Avocados grow on trees around the world, but not every location is as blessed as we are. Mexico, specifically the state of Michoacán, is one of the only places in the world where avocado trees produce fruit 365 days a year.
So, the next time someone chastises you for eating all the avocados as if they grow on trees, you can say, “But avocados do grow on trees!” Avocado trees are native to Central America and Mexico, where they’ve been cultivated for, oh, say, thousands of years. It’s true! Early humans grew avocado trees as far back as 500 B.C.
Avocado trees are evergreens belonging to the Lauraceae family, which includes other trees like cinnamon and bay laurel. Despite their classification as evergreens, they don’t look like a typical Christmas tree. They’re big and bushy, growing up to 60 feet tall and 35 feet wide! Avocado trees have a spreading, open canopy with large, leathery leaves that are dark green in color. These leaves can grow up to a foot long. Avocado trees first produce clusters of small, yellow-green flowers that, once pollinated, are followed by the fruit. Each avocado can weigh anywhere from a few ounces to several pounds, depending on the variety. (It’s not recommended to read a book sitting beneath an avocado tree!)
Do Hass avocados grow on trees, too? Yes! Hass avocados have high yields compared to other varieties of avocado trees. A mature Hass avocado tree can produce over a million blooms and typically lives for hundreds of years. Hass avocados have a bumpy skin that gradually deepens from a brilliant green to a deep purple, which is helpful for clueing you in when the avocado is ready to eat! (However, the best indicator is to give it a little squeeze.)
Hass avocado trees were first created by Rudolph Hass in 1926 in California. Rudolph grafted two different types of avocado trees together to create the Hass avocado tree — a tree that was sturdier and provided more fruit than Fuerte avocado trees, which were the most popular variety at the time in the Americas. Today, there are an estimated 10 million Hass avocado trees worldwide, all descendants of Rudolph Hass’s first grafted avocado tree!
Avocado trees are native to tropical and sub-tropical areas and require ample sunshine, water, and well-draining soil to survive. (They are susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet.) You can grow avocado trees outdoors in warm, tropical climates or indoors in a planter by a window that allows for lots of sunlight.
But there’s one thing you should know: Avocado trees are not self-pollinating. This means that they need another avocado tree nearby and the help of some friendly pollinators (bees, birds, or humans good with Q-tips) in order to produce fruit. Avocado trees have both male and female flowers, but they typically do not bloom at the same time. So, if you want your avocado tree to bear fruit, your avocado tree will need a friend. (Resulting in two avocado trees’ worth of avocados! Hooray!)
It is true that all good things come with time. Avocado trees take a few years to start producing fruit — but once they do, you’ll have a bounty of creamy, delicious avocados for decades. The amount of fruit produced by a single tree can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including the age of the tree, the climate, and the quality of care it receives. So, keep your avocado tree nice and toasty (between 60 and 85°F), well-watered, and near plenty of sunshine.
Avocados do not ripen on the tree. You must pick them off the tree by hand when they are firm to allow them to ripen. Have a fiesta on the books? Ripen your avocado faster by putting it inside a paper bag with a banana!
Once your avocado is ripe, you can pause the process by placing it in the refrigerator.
So, there you have it. Next time someone asks, “Do avocados grow on trees?” you can happily inform them that avocados do, indeed, grow on trees. And thank goodness they do! Avocado trees are an important part of Mexico’s agriculture industry, and they provide a delicious and nutritious fruit that is beloved by many around the world. With sunshine, water, and a little love, you can grow a whole new reason to love your favorite fruit even more!
Get some more food for thought. Explore other bits of zany avocado trivia here.
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