8. Persea Miller, Gard. Dict. Abr., ed. 4. 1754.
Red bay [used by Theophrastus for an oriental tree]
B. Eugene Wofford
Shrubs to medium-sized trees , evergreen. Bark reddish brown, thin, fissured. Leaves alternate, aromatic. Leaf blade pinnately veined; surfaces pubescent, especially abaxially, becoming glabrescent with age; domatia absent. Inflorescence appearing when mature leaves are present, axillary, flowers in pedunculate, compound cymes. Flowers bisexual; tepals persistent, yellowish, pubescent, outer tepals slightly shorter than inner; stamens 9, anthers 4-locular, 4-valved, anthers of outer 6 stamens introrse, anthers of inner 3 latrorse; staminodes 3, sagittate; ovary nearly globose. Drupe dark blue to black, nearly globose, borne on pedicel with tepals persistent at base; cupule absent. x = 12.
Species ca. 150 (3 in the flora): tropical and subtropical regions, Western Hemisphere.
Persea americana Miller, the avocado of commerce, with large, fleshy fruits and deciduous tepals, is widely grown in California and Florida. It may persist after cultivation.
Pubescence type and density are the most reliable characteristics in identifying species and are best seen on young leaves and branches.