In keeping with seasonal fruit, we are looking at the Avocado tree today, with special focus on the ‘Fuerte’ cultivar. Named ‘Fuerte’, meaning ‘strong’ in Spanish, this is one of the most popular cultivars in South Africa. The ‘Fuerte’ has a wide climate tolerance and can survive temperatures of up to -4 degrees Celsius. However, the tree does not tolerate frost while flowering.

The Avocado is a dense, evergreen tree that sheds many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing with a large spreading growth habit. Flowering generally takes place from June to October and fruit are ready to be harvested from March to August, dependant on the region.

Individual avocados only ripen after they are removed from the tree. The fruit of the ‘Fuerte’ avocado tree is pear shaped, with a slightly rough, thin green skin. This easy to peel avocado has a creamy, buttery texture. When ripe, the skin stays green, and the fruit stalk can be removed with ease.

Growing an avocado tree from the pip being suspended over a container of water can be rewarding, but can take up to seven years to produce fruit. Grafted trees from nurseries, however, can bear fruit after only two years. The avocado tree thrives in a warm, sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind. The soil should be rich and well-composted with good drainage as the tree has a fairly sensitive root system that will rot if there is too much water in the soil.

It is important to note that the fruits, bark, seeds and leaves of the avocado tree can be poisonous to many domesticated animals like cats, dogs, horses and birds, so take that into consideration if you have pets.