Coconut trees are a member of the palm tree family. So, they are actually coconut palms. The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm.
Coconuts are ubiquitous in coastal tropical regions, and are a cultural icon of the tropics. They can float on water, and are sometimes carried by the water to the surrounding islands where they germinate and grow. That is why you see many coconut palms on/along the coasts.
The coconut palm is one of the most useful trees in the world. It is often referred to as the ‘tree of life.’ It provides food, fuel, cosmetics, folk medicine and building materials, among many other uses.
The flesh of the coconut is white and can be eaten raw or grated and used in cooking, or baking. It is used in many food to enhance the flavour. Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel of mature coconuts. They are used for cooking, or as ingredients for cosmetic products. Some cultures believe that rubbing the coconut oil onto the hair will give you healthy hairs.
Coconut milk, derived from the flesh of the coconut is used in cooking, baking and added into desserts and drinks for flavouring.
The flesh of the coconut, as well as the coconut milk extracted from it, forms a regular part of the diets of many people in the tropics.
Coconuts are distinct from other fruits because their endosperm contains a large quantity of clear liquid, called coconut water. The coconut water is drinkable – very refreshing.
The young leaves of the coconut palm can be woven to make pouches to hold food which are then cooked - like the following rice cake.
The dried leaves can be used as material for roof thatches. The ‘veins’ of the leaves can be made into brushes and brooms. The fibre of the coconut can be woven into rugs. The shell is relatively hard. Properly split, it can be used as containers, or crafted into ladles or art pieces. It is up to people to use their creativity. The husk of the coconut burns easily and are used to start fires.
So, you can see that every part of the coconut tree has its uses, and these are just some uses that came to mind. Now you know why the coconut tree is called the Tree of Life.
Coconut palms are very hardly. They can survive very harsh conditions. The one in the picture below looks like it has been uprooted at some point. Left where it was, it continued to grow. From the looks of the flowers, it seems to be very healthy, and surviving all right.
See the three dots on the coconut? They are referred to as the eyes of the coconut. Legend has it that coconuts will not fall on somebody’s head, because they have ‘eyes to see’.
Coconuts are green when young. When they ripen, they are brown in colour. It is easy to grow them. Just drop them anywhere, give them time and they will germinate.
A bit of trivia. Apparently, the coconut palm is the National tree of the Maldives.
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