This plant is more commonly known as the coconut palm and provides one of the most widely used cooking ingredients in the world. It’s not entirely clear where the coconut palm first originates from but it is now one of the most widely-recognised plants in the world. There have been songs sung about the heavy fruit produced from this plant and its contents are used in cosmetics and beauty treatments throughout the world.
Coconut palms can grow in highly salted soil and sandy ground, so you can normally find them close to the beach and ocean. At home in the tropics, the coconut palm prefers abundant rainfall and plenty of sunshine, and will not grow fruit if the weather turns too cold.
These plants can grow up to 30ft and are most recognisable for their smooth trunks with leaves confined to the very top. The coconut fruit is very popular for both its flesh and milk and is used in cooking across the globe.
Coconut palm is found growing naturally across the equator and prefers temperate and tropical climates. They are also cultivated for trade and are grown in more than 80 countries across the world.
There are two general types of coconut palm; tall and dwarf. Dwarf varieties are more suitable for gardens and hot houses, while the larger variety is primarily used for consumer purposes.
It’s best to plant coconut palm below ground level so the roots can get purchase. They prefer sandy soils and you should only lightly water it – don’t overdo it. It can take a while for the husk to split and produce a frond so be patient.
Did you know?
There is an old spelling of coconut – ‘cocoanut’ which was a term derived from the 16th century Portuguese and Spanish word ‘cocos’, meaning “grinning face”, as the three small holes on the coconut shell resemble a human face.
In some parts of the world, trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts for the farmers.
Coconuts have spread across the world mainly by using marine currents to carry their fruit to new places. Once washed ashore, the fruits grow into maturity until ready to drop their own coconuts into the water.