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However, there is evidence for three possible separate domestications of the avocado, resulting in the currently recognized Mexican (aoacatl), Guatemalan (quilaoacatl), and West Indian (tlacacolaocatl) landraces.

The Mexican and Guatemalan landraces originated in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala, respectively, while the West Indian landrace is a lowland variety that ranges from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador to Peru, Archaeologists recently discovered the remains of the avocado plant in what is now Peru, carbon dated from 8,000 to 15,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period.

Once picked, avocados ripen in one to two weeks (depending on the cultivar) at room temperature (faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas, because of the influence of ethylene gas).

Some supermarkets sell ripened avocados which have been treated with synthetic ethylene to hasten ripening.

This evidence was found in an earth mound intended to be a ceremonial structure called Huaca Prieta, 600 kilometers north of Lima, Peru.

The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and can be grown only in subtropical or tropical climates.When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit drop may occur, although the 'Hass' cultivar can tolerate temperatures down to −1 °C.The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep.The species is only partially able to self-pollinate because of dichogamy in its flowering.This limitation, added to the long juvenile period, makes the species difficult to breed.

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