Persea americana, avocado
The Avocado over recent years has quite literally become known as a superfood for many health conscious people due to its many medicinal benefits. Technically it is actually a berry, and under no accounts a vegetable despite it’s savoury taste! It is believed that the very word “avocado” has been derived from the “ahuacatl” (a Nahuatl word) which translates as “testicle”. It is assumed that is due to the shape of the fruit, although it also has aphrodisiac properties.
Avocados are a fantastic source of potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, folate Vitamins C, E, K and B6 plus many more. Adding avocado to your diet is good for your heart as they contain a natural plant sterol and excellent for lowering cholesterol. With a high fibre content they are invaluable for good digestive health and maintaining a healthy weight. They also provide antioxidants that will minimize damage from ultraviolet light and help reduce the risk of macular degeneration (age related eyesight loss).
Just half an avocado will provide 25% of your rda of vitamin K. Which supports healthy bones and therefore a super prevention for Osteoporosis. Also the high levels of folate is a great asset during pregnancy for the healthy formation of babies, it also is known to help decrease the risk of depression. This is because folate helps to prevent the build up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair the circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain. Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine which are all regulators of mood, sleep, and appetite.
The list of medicinal benefits from avocado is long, including researched treatments for hair and skin benefits, arthritis, cancer, diabetes. Due to a distinct increase in the human consumption of avocado inspired by media coverage, it is even more so recognised that trees need to remain healthy and fruitful to keep up with demand.
I have illustrated the flowers throughout my illustration (the left diagrams show the female (above) and the male (below). Interestingly the trees flower in a manner known as “synchronous dichogamy” which means the bloom time for male and female flowers is distinct. Making self pollination very unlikely. The Persea americana ‘Hass’ avocado, classed as a type A, has female flowers receptive to pollen in the morning and male blooms that shed pollen in the afternoon. Where as other varieties, type B, such as ‘Zutano’ male and female flowers will produce pollen at opposite times of day. Thus making cross pollination by insects an attribute in producing far more fruitful trees. Of course beyond this there are crucial factors such as day and night temperatures being at the desired warmth and coolness respectively and also the weather conditions.
The yield in fruit will always be far higher with the cross pollination enabled by pollinating insects. In the case of this illustration, I chose the Apis mellifera, honey bee, often one of the most productive pollinators of avocados, although butterflies,hoverfly and even hummingbirds will visit the blooms.
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