Did You Know…?

Cocos nucifera

The coconut is distributed around the world in the tropics, but is thought to have originated in Polynesia. Nuts floating in the ocean currents, or brought to Islands by ancient sea-farers of long ago, colonized the Islands in the tropical Pacific. The coconut was a staple for both food and drink for the inhabitants of the Islands, and also provided oil, wood, and fiber, as well as leaves for weaving and thatch for roofing.

This particular variety of coconut palm is called the Samoan Dwarf Coconut. Although it grows as tall as any other coconut, it begins to flower and produce coconuts when its trunk is less than 10 feet in length (sometimes even 3 feet), and so the nuts are easier to harvest for a refreshing drink.

The inflorescence produces relatively few female flowers at the base of its branches, while male flowers are produced abundantly along most of the more distal portions of the branches of the inflorescence. This pattern of flower production in which there are separate male and female flowers produced on the same plant is referred to as being “monoecious”. Another familiar example of a monoecious plant would be corn, with the male flowers in the tassel and the female flowers being in the ear, but both being on the same plant.

The coconut will not sprout while it is moving about in the water, but, upon becoming motionless on the beach, it will sprout. The shoot emerges from the soft “eye” that can be seen on a dehusked nut, which is located at the same end of the coconut as was attached to the inflorescence. The husk does not have to be removed from the coconut for it to be able to sprout. The plants are obviously extremely salt-tolerant, growing right on the beach. 

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