Coconut tree: everything you need to know


The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is a palm-type fruit tree of tropical origin , although many still think that it is a tree with Asian origins.

The palm tree, from the arecaceae family, is cultivated or grows spontaneously in all tropical countries. The specific name nucifera derives from Latin and means bearer of nuts. The fruit is called coconut or coconut. It is the only species within the genus cocos.

The coconut is a very important and essential element in the gastronomy of many countries in the tropical zones of the world.

The coconut palm is a very tall tree that can reach up to 30 meters in height and whose fruit we know under the name of coconut.

Regarding its cultivation requirements, it should be noted that it is a tree that does not tolerate cold or great heights and cannot grow on hard soils with a lack of salt. It needs humid climates and strong winds to pollinate its flowers to grow properly.

It is recommended to water abundantly during the months that go from May to September, both inclusive. The rest of the months you can reduce the amount of water without problem.

In short, the ideal areas for the growth of coconut palms would be places like Hawaii, Florida or the Canary Islands, but you should know that despite there being a single species, there are many varieties that we differentiate by the stem and that we find in other areas of the Earth. .

The coconut

The coconut is a very large nut surrounded by a fibrous mesocarp that splits open to extract the coconut; the edible part is the white endosperm. The young walnut is full of water. Coconut milk is obtained by squeezing the grated nut.

The name comes from the Portuguese coco, a kind of coconut to scare children.

It is a large palm tree that is found in the tropical countries of the world. It can reach 30 meters high. It has three or more large, pinnate leaves that can reach 6 meters in length. It blooms throughout the year in inflorescences containing both male and female flowers with 6 stamens. The flowers are located on the axillary appendages.

Coconut flowers and fruit

The flowers of the coconut tree are male and female and the latter are continually blooming because they are the ones that produce the seeds.

The female flowers, when they finish the maturation process, form a fruit in the form of a monospermous oval drupe of ta 30 cm in diameter with a fibrous pericarp and a bony endocarp.

The coconut is a round fruit whose exterior brown shell is tremendously strong and its interior is white and contains a delicious liquid. The coconut contains  the largest seed that can be found on the planet.

Spontaneously, it is dispersed by floating the fruits in the sea and germinating on the beaches, since the fruits resist the salinization of the water.

It prefers sandy soil and needs a lot of sunshine, high relative humidity (750 to 200 liters of rain per year or irrigated), this humidity cannot be excessive, since an excess of water would initiate a putrefactive effect on the plant.

The coconut palm is one of the most desired fruit trees by many horticulturists but, unfortunately, it has very limited growing conditions that prevent its expansion worldwide.


Chemical composition

Depending on which part of the coconut tree we analyze, we will find some components or others:

If we look at coconut milk we find up to 2% of carbohydrate derivatives (pennyroyal, sorbitol), organic acids (maleic acid), amino acids and diphenyl-urea.

On the other hand, if we look at copra (dry pulp) we will find up to 65% lipids, carbohydrates and, to a lesser extent, vitamin D.

Finally, in the coconut shell we will find mainly tannins.

Medical uses

Before the coconut matures inside, we find coconut milk, which is anthelmintic and diuretic. We use coconut butter to repair the skin. The meat of the coconut is discreetly laxative and with it a pectoral syrup is made.

Pharmacological actions

Medicinal properties

  • Coconut water , acts as a refreshing, laxative, anthelmintic and diuretic.
  • Coconut butter , emollient, eliminates inflammation.
  • Coconut milk has a property to kill intestinal parasites.
  • Burnt helmet , we use this for toothache.
General uses

It has many applications. It is basically used for food in the form of fruit, oil or a highly digestible butter recommended for dieting. Apart from the fruit, the leaves and the trunk are also used for rural construction. Coconut fiber is used as insulation and in horticulture as a good substitute for peat.

  • The white part of the coconut can be dried or eaten fresh.
  • Coconut juice or milk has sugars, fiber, proteins, antioxidants and minerals that constitute an isotonic drink that, apart from gastronomic use, has been used as a plant culture medium in the laboratory, since it is sterile (until it is opened).

Curiosities of the coconut

The Indians used coconut water as a remedy for all illnesses and cups or glasses were made from the shell.

From the flowers of the coconut tree, a wine is made that the English call “lady”.

Coconut is a difficult food to digest but it has an effect that increases sperm.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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