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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac/Mother Avocado

Air Date: Week of

This week, we have facts about the first mother avocado tree. In 1926 a letter carrier from Los Angeles stumbled upon a new variety of California’s most popular fruit.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: Calexico “Sonic Wind (Instrumental Mix)” EVEN MY SURE THINGS FALL THROUGH (Quarterstick Records - 2001)]

CURWOOD: In 1926, a letter carrier from La Habra, California planted a seedling in his front yard that would become the mother of the nation’s most popular avocado, the Hass. Charles Hass, son of Rudolph Hass, explains that his father was trying to develop a new variety of the tropical fruit.

The original Hass mother tree. (Courtesy of California Avocado Commission)   

HASS: There was this one seedling though, that he grafted three different times and all three times the graft died. So he was going to get rid of the tree but my older brothers and sisters talked him out of it because they liked the fruit. That seedling became the first Hass avocado tree.

CURWOOD: At first, people were suspicious of the rubbery-skinned Hass, which was darker than its green brothers. But thanks to its durability and nutty taste, Hass avocados now make up more than eighty percent of all avocados grown in the U.S.

(Courtesy of California Avocado Commission)

The mother of all Hass avocado trees died last year at the age of 76. And The World Avocado Congress will decide next month in Spain what to do with the wood. Some of the descendants of Rudolph Hass have their own ideas.

HASS: My dad’s nephew – my cousin – gets good avocado wood, and he uses them for the back of ukeleles, guitars, puzzles, jewelry, and he’s chompin’ at the bit to get some.

CURWOOD: And for this week, Hass’s the Living on Earth Almanac.

[MUSIC: Calexico “Sonic Wind (Instrumental Mix)” EVEN MY SURE THINGS FALL THROUGH (Quarterstick Records - 2001)]



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