Avocado History, Biodiversity and Production

  • Tomas Ayala Silva
  • Noris Ledesma
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 2)


Avocado (Persea Americana Mill.) has been grown in the neotropics as far back as 10,000 BC. The species are scattered from northern Mexico through the southeastern United States, east through the West Indies and south through Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Avocado is a major tropical fruit originating in tropical America, including the eastern and central highlands of Mexico, Guatemala, Central America down to the northern parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador).

The most common name for this fruit is avocado, derived from the Spanish word “aguacate”, in turn derived from the Aztec words “Ahuacatl” and “ahoacaquahuitl” The earliest known written account of avocado in Europe is that of Martín Fernández de Enciso (c.1470–c.1528) in 1518 or in Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo in 1519. The first written record of the word ‘avocado’ in English was by Hans Sloane in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants. The plant was introduced to Indonesia in 1750, Brazil in 1809, the Levant in 1908 and South Africa and Australia in the late nineteenth century. Avocado has been classified into three distinct subspecies or major races: Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. According to FAO projections, the avocado harvest will amount to 3.9 million t in 2014. Latin America and the Caribbean are the main producing regions of the world, largely due to Chile because it is one of the largest exporters of avocado. Some of the main avocado producing countries are; Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, United States, Australia, South Africa and Israel. Global production of avocado in 2012 was estimated at 4,487,881 t. Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, representing over one-fourth of global production. Chile was the second largest producer in 2011 (330,000 t), accounting for nearly 7.5 % followed by Dominican Republic and Indonesia with about 6.0 % each and the USA ranked 8th in the world with approximately 3.15 % of the production.


Avocado Persea Mexican Guatemalan West Indian 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research ServiceSubtropical Horticulture Research Station, National Germplasm Repository SystemMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Fairchild Tropical Botanic GardenHomesteadUSA

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