Persea is a genus of about 150 species of evergreen trees belonging to the laurel family, Lauraceae. The best -known member of the genus is the avocado, P. americana, widely cultivated in subtropical regions for its large, edible fruit.
They are medium-size trees, 15–30 m (49.2–98.4 ft) tall at maturity. The leaves are simple, lanceolate to broad lanceolate, varying with species from 5–30 cm (1.97–11.81 in) long and 2–12 cm (0.79–4.72 in) broad, and arranged spirally or alternately on the stems. The flowers are in short panicles, with six small greenish- yellow perianth segments 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in) long, nine stamens and an ovary with a single embryo. The fruit is an oval or pear -shaped drupe, with a fleshy outer covering surrounding the single seed ; size is very variable between the species, from 1–1.5 cm (0.39–0.59 inches) in e.g. P. borbonia and P. indica, up to 10–20 cm (3.94–7.87 inches) in some cultivars of P. americana.
The species of Persea have a disjunct distribution, with about 70 Neotropic species, ranging from Brazil and Chile in South America to Central America and Mexico, the Caribbean, and the southeastern United States ; a single species, P. indica, endemic to the Macaronesian islands, in the North West coast of Africa area, including Madeira and the Canary Islands ; and 80 species inhabiting east and southeast Asia. None of the species are very tolerant of severe winter cold, with the hardiest, P. borbonia, P. ichangensis and P. lingue, surviving temperatures down to about −12 °C (10.4 °F); they also require continuously moist soil, and do not tolerate drought. A number of these species are found in forests that face threats of destruction or deforestation; for example, P. meyeniana in Central Chile.