Coconut tree

Facts about coconut tree

We found 13 facts about coconut tree

The tree that provides all the necessities of life

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is an iconic tropical tree that has played a key role in the lives of communities living in areas with warm climates for centuries. For thousands of years, it has provided the inhabitants of tropical coasts with an excellent source of food and raw materials: its fruits provide nutritious food and drink, its wood is used for building huts, and its leaves-roofing.

Its unique characteristics and versatile uses have made it an integral part of the culture, economy, and ecosystems of the tropics.

One of the most valued gifts this palm offers is coconuts-fruits that decorate landscapes and are a valuable raw material with nutritional, cosmic, and industrial significance. It is not without reason that in the past they were called trees of a thousand uses.

Coconut tree
Coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), also known as coconut palm (whole plant) and coconut (fruit) is a monotypic species belonging to the family Arecaceae.

It is the only species (monotype) of the genus Cocos that has different varieties. The name of this genus comes from the 16th-century Portuguese word coco, which means “head” or “skull” due to the three depressions in the coconut shell that resemble facial features.

The coconut palm is native to tropical and subtropical areas, but its exact origin is not fully established.

It is difficult to conclusively determine because its seeds can survive long sea voyages, which has led to the natural spread of the species in different tropical regions. Some sources point to Southeast Asia (with the area of today’s Indonesia and Malaysia) as the likely place of origin, but similar theories claim the Oceania area.

Today, the coconut tree is mainly found in areas of Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), Oceania (Pacific islands, including Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, and others), Africa (Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Zanzibar) and Latin America (Brazil, Colombia).

Due to its ability to adapt to different soil and climatic conditions, the coconut tree has become common in many parts of the world where conditions are suitable for its growth.

It grows in sandy soils and is very tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with plenty of sunshine and regular rainfall – 1500-2500 mm per year. It does not tolerate cold weather. Its fruits require high humidity, at least 70-80 percent, for optimal growth.

The following conditions must be met for these trees to grow in their natural habitat:

  • average daily temperature must be above 12-13 degrees Celsius
  • average annual precipitation above 1000 mm
  • unrestricted access to sunlight
Cocos nucifera is a tall palm growing up to 30 meters.

It has feathery leaves 4-6 meters long, which are clustered in a crown at the top of the trunk. They consist of segments called leaflets, which can be flexible, allowing them to move in the wind.

The palm’s trunk, called the log, is one of the most distinctive features. It is tall, cylindrical, and covered with the remains of fallen leaves, forming distinctive rings. Its root system is superficial, which allows it to draw water from the soil surface.

The palm flowers form inflorescences and are sessile - some plants have male flowers, others have females. Female inflorescences develop into fruiting bodies, which develop into large fruits-coconuts.

The fruit of the coconut palm is the coconut, which botanically is a one-seeded drupe.

Like other fruits, it has three layers: exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. The exocarp is the shiny outer skin, usually yellow-green to yellow-brown. The mesocarp consists of a thick layer of fibers called coir. The woody endocarp forms a seed, called a coconut, which contains a single seed. The endocarp is about four millimeters thick and has three characteristic germination holes (micropyles) at the distal end. Only one of them is functional, covered with a soft shell through which the germinating shoot can penetrate. The other two are encapsulated. The inner wall of the seed is lined with a thick layer of solid endosperm, which when dried is called copra.

The inside of the seed is filled with a liquid form of endosperm, called coconut water. A small cylindrical embryo is embedded in the solid endosperm, directly below the functional germination opening.

A tall coconut palm growing on fertile soil can produce up to 75 fruits a year.

Usually, however, it is less than 30. With proper care and proper growing conditions, coconut palms produce their first fruits in 6-10 years. Peak production occurs in 15-20 years. The palm tree fruits all year round and can bear fruit for more than 60 years. The maximum age of coconut palms ranges from 100 to 120 years.

A full-sized coconut fruit weighs about 1.4 kilograms.

The fruit can reach different weights, with up to 0,5 kilograms being encountered - the largest fruits reach up to 2,5 kilograms.

World coconut production in 2020 was 62 million tons.

The leading producers are Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia.

The coconut palm is extremely versatile and useful - virtually every part of it can be used by humans in some way and has significant economic value.

In Sanskrit, it is referred to as kalpavriksha - the tree that provides everything necessary for life. In Malay, it is referred to as the tree of a thousand uses. In the Philippines, the coconut is called the tree of life.

The coconut contains many valuable nutrients.

The flesh contains valuable vitamins as well as minerals, fatty acids, and fiber. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. The dried pulp is called copra, and coconut oil can be pressed from it.

The coconut water contained inside the nut is used as a cooling and isotonic drink (due to its high electrolyte content), which is great for quenching thirst. Its composition is similar to human blood plasma, so under special conditions, it can be used as intravenous liquid hydration. Until the fruit is opened, coconut water is sterile.

Coconut shells are a good source of charcoal, so they are used as fuel.

They are also used in theaters and for movie soundtracks. The clacking of the nutshell halves against each other mimics the clatter of horse hooves.

The wood from the trunk of the coconut palm and the fiber from the leaves are used in the construction industry to make roofs, mats, and furniture.

Coconut fiber is also used to make rope and other craft products, such as brushes, and brooms. In horticulture, coconut fiber is made into compost.

An important ingredient in Thai and Indian cuisine is coconut milk.

It is made by mashing grated coconut flesh with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds from the fiber. Coconut milk contains about 17 percent fat, and the resulting marc is used as food for livestock.

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