|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Persea (ancient Greek name of an Egyptian tree with sweet fruit; derivation unknown, probably from Perseus). Lauraceae. Woody plants sometimes grown for ornament; and one of them yields the avocado, one of the best of the semi-tropical fruits.
Leaves alternate, entire: fls. small, hermaphrodite, usually in panicles; corolla wanting, the calyx deeply 6-parted; stamens usually 12, in 4 series, with one series sterile; ovary sessile and tapering into a slender style bearing a simple stigma.—Shrubs and trees distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics, most of the species being confined to S. Amer., but one coming from the Canary Isls. and a few from S. E. Asia. As defined by Bentham & Hooker, the genus contains about 100 species, but Meissner (DC. Prodr. 15, pt. 1. 43) distributes some of the species in other genera and retains only 50 in Persea. Mez, in his monograph on the American Lauraceae: (Jahrb. Konigl. Bot. Gart. 1889, 5. 135), describes 47 American species. P. gratissima, the avocado, widely cult, throughout Trop. Amer. and elsewhere for its fr., is the only species of great economic importance. Others are of ornamental value, and may prove useful as stocks upon which to bud or graft the avocado, although experiments have not been very encouraging up to the present. P. Borbonia grows naturally as far north as N. C.; P. indica is now and then seen in cult, in Fla. and Calif. Some of the Cent. American types referred to P. gratissima seem distinct, and may be found to constitute good species.
P. drymifolia, Cham. & Schlect,, is now considered to be a form of P. gratissima; it is the type with anise-scented lvs. and small, thin-skinned frs. described above as Mexican. Mez recognizes it as a botanical variety and describes it along with another variety, P.gratissima var. Schiediana,also indigenous to Mex-The hardy avocado or yas of San Jose,Costa Rica has been referred by Werekle to P.frigida Lind., but this name is of doubtful validity. The fr. is figured by Collins (Bull. 77, Bur. Pl. Ind.), and is said to be of possible value for hybridization with more tender species. It is spherical, about 3 in. diam., with a very large seed.—P. lingue, Nees, and P. Meyeniana, Nees, are two species which have recently been intro. to the U. S. from Chile. CH
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Pests and diseases
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The genus Persea is treated in three subgeneraCH. The Asian subgenus Machilus is treated in a separate genus Machilus by many authors, including in the Flora of China, while graft-incompatibility between subgenus Persea and subgenus Eriodaphne suggests that these too may be better treated as distinct genera, in fact Kostermans (1993) founded the genus Mutisiopersea for theseCH. Another closely related genus Beilschmiedia is also sometimes included in PerseaCH.
- Subgenus Persea - Central America. Two species.
- Persea americana - Avocado
- Persea americana var. drymifolia
- Persea americana var. floccosa
- Persea americana var. guatemalensis
- Persea americana var. nubigena
- Persea americana var. steyermarkii
- Persea schiedeana - Coyo
- Persea alpigena
- Persea borbonia – Redbay
- Persea caerulea
- Persea cinerascens
- Persea donnell-smithii
- Persea indica – Viñátigo (possibly better treated in a fourth subgenus of its own)
- Persea lingue – Lingue
- Persea longipes
- Persea palustris – Swampbay
- Persea skutchii
- Subgenus Machilus - Asia. About 80 species, including
- Persea edulis
- Persea ichangensis
- Persea japonica
- Persea macrantha
- Persea nanmu
- Persea thunbergii
- Persea yunnanensis
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963