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Tree to 20 m, but usually shorter and sometimes shrubby. Trunk usually straight. Bark silvery, dark grey when old, thick with deep furrows. Branches more or less ascending, green when young, new shoots pubescent. Leaves 15–18 × 3–4 cm, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, flushing bronze, bright shiny green on upper surface, lower surface dull, sparsely hairy above, silky-hairy below when immature, glabrous on both surfaces when mature, apex obtuse to acute, base cuneate; petiole 2–3 cm. Old leaves become orange-red before they fall, at any time of the year. Inflorescence formed of subterminal axillary cymes, with peduncles exceeding petiole in length; flowers 3.5–6 mm long, yellowish green, appearing in spring or early summer. Fruits 15–16 mm, ovoid to subglobose, subtended by persistent corolla lobes, green becoming blue-black, with distinct smell of avocado, maturing in late spring. Arboles Ornamentales 2007–2008. Distribution AZORES; CANARY ISLANDS; MADEIRA. Habitat Laurisilva cloud forest on mountain slopes between (300–)400–500 and 1000–1100 m asl, especially with Laurus azorica (Seub.) Franco and Ocotea foetens Benth. & Hook. f. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Lower Risk.
Persea indica is an important constituent of the native damp forests of the Macaronesian islands, especially with Laurus azorica and Ocotea foetens – an association that gives rise to the term ‘laurisilva’ for such forests. The fruits of these ‘laurels’ are the most important food for the several species of endemic pigeon (Columba spp.) on the islands. Laurisilva was once extensive but is now reduced to remnant populations on steeper slopes, where the mist forms each day and creates a cool, humid atmosphere. Recommended for and apparently widely planted in Florida and southern California (Schuch et al. 1992), P. indica seems, however, to be little known in temperate cultivation, although it is commercially available in England. A plant at Kew is grown in the Evolution House, reflecting the primitive nature of the Lauraceae. A warm, humid situation seems to offer the best chance of succeeding with it in our area.