Tree of the month: Nuts about Coco

Jumping right into it today from the last post I wrote, let’s quickly get into the history of the Coconut tree.

What’s in a name? “The coconut shell was described a coco, or “grinning face” of a monkey because of its 3 dark holes at its base which look like a pop-eyed merry face. From then on, it was referred to as the coconut.”


History: The Coconut tree often referred to as the Tree of Life dates back to the 16th century, the history of the evolution of the coconut is so rich from the ancient Austronesians to the prehistoric trade routes and of the colonization of the Americas. Coconut was cultivated under two very distinct locations, one in the Pacific Basin and the other in the Indian Ocean Basin which will account for the tall and the dwarf coconut trees.

Trees: The most common of the coconut tree the Tall one can live up to about 100 years and grows up to about 30m tall, its pinnate leaves having a coverage of between 4-6m wide and the pinnae about 60-90cm long. The tree has a single bole, the bark of which is smooth and ring-scarred.

Flowers: The Tree produces a flower each and every month , both the male and female flower produce on the same cluster. The female flower is much larger than the male flower. Coconut palms are usually to be cross-pollinated, although some dwarf varieties are self-pollinating.

1. The coconut flower

The male petals open first by attracting bees with their nectar. Each male flower opens for a few days before drying out & falling off the tree, then the female flower opens up if it has been pollinated it will bulge and fill with water then mature into a young coconut over the next 6 months.

2. The stages of the female flower after pollination, from bulge to young coconut

Foilage: The leaves of the Coconut tree are pinnated and they consist of linear-lanceolate bright green leaflets. Old leaves break away clean when dried up leaving the trunk smooth.

“Pinnation (also called pennation) is the arrangement of feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis.”

3. Sample of pinnation in leaves

Fruits: Contrary to popular views the Coconut is not a true nut but a Drupe.

“A drupe is an indehiscent fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside.”

4. source

As with other fruits, the Coconut has three layers, the Exocarp, Mesocarp which is the husk of the fruit, and the Endocarp. A full-sized coconut weighs about 1.44 kg. It takes around 6,000 full-grown coconuts to produce a tonne of copra. Interestingly the coconut is light and water resistant and can also be used as a floatation device which is why it is so deeply embedded in the fabric of the travelling people.

Copra is the dried meat, or dried kernel, of the coconut used to extract coconut oil.

A_cut_coconut_shell (2)
5. The shell of a coconut

Varieties: Coconut is broken into two general varieties, the Tall and the Dwarf, but over the years different hybrids have been cultivated. The most common dwarf coconut is the Malayan dwarf, other dwarf varieties include Fiji dwarf, Chowghat dwarf green and the Ghowchat dwarf orange. The Tall varieties include the Jamaican Tall obviously cultivated from Jamaica, also we have the West coast Tall originating from India, the Hainan Tall from China,  Laccadiv Micro, Andaman ordinary, Fiji Tall, Kappadam , San Ramon, Philippines, Spicate, Pratap.

According to an urban legend, more deaths are caused by falling coconuts than by sharks annually.

Love and coco grins




  1. By Muhammad Mahdi Karim ( Facebook Youtube – Own work, GFDL 1.2,
  5. By Aravind Sivaraj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,




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