Do Coconuts Grow On Palm Trees?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 12 2020 in Environment

Palm full of coconuts on a beach in Maldives.
Palm full of coconuts on a beach in Maldives.

Nowadays, coconut is quite a popular fruit that is used worldwide. However, it is a misguided notion that every palm tree has coconuts. All coconut trees are palm trees, however not all palm trees have coconuts. Palm trees and coconut trees belong to the same family of trees, but as different species, coconut is classified as a drupe, not a nut. 

What Is The Difference Between a Palm Tree And a Coconut Tree?

Despite the similarity between the coconut palm tree and the oil palm tree, there is a distinction. Due to its resilience, a coconut tree can live for a hundred years while deeply rooted in the soil. It is one of the most often grown palm trees. In order to thrive, the coconut requires humidity of tropical areas. Scientists speculate that it originated in the Indomalayan realm. They are very much grown in Florida’s tropical region, but the ones in California and Arizona are not coconut palm trees.

Is There Just One Type Of a Coconut?

A plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University, Kenneth M. Olsen, Ph.D., upon examining over a thousand coconuts, has discovered that there are two different types of coconuts. They were cultivated in different locations, the Indian Ocean basin, and the Pacific Ocean basin. The two types of coconuts are called Niu kafa, which has a triangular shape, and its meat is used for oil, and Niu vai, more rounded with sweet coconut water.

How Is Coconut Used?

Throughout time, people have used coconut in many ways, mostly coconut meat, coconut water, and coconut oil. In the Malaysian culture, coconut is described as “the tree of a thousand uses,” and indeed, the coconut tree has benefited civilizations. People dry and consume coconut meat, drink coconut water, and use coconut oil for various reasons, including the husk. The fiber for the husk is used to manufacture brooms, ropes, mats, brushes, and baskets.  

The people of the Philippines refer to the coconut as “The Tree of Life.” There is even a government building called Coconut Palace in Manila, Philippines. With its octagon shape, it is mostly made out of coconut shells and lumber. The Palace highlights the coconut as the ultimate “Tree of Life.” The Philippines is a country with the biggest production of coconut oil in the world, followed by India and Indonesia.

Coconut Oil Gets Popular

The demand for coconut oil in recent years has been rising significantly which is mostly due to the belief that it is beneficial to our health. A survey has shown that 72% of Americans consider coconut oil to be healthy. It is rich in minerals, vitamins, and plant sterols, but does not contain cholesterol nor fiber. 

Coconut meat is pressed to make coconut oil. For virgin coconut oil, fresh meat is pressed, and dried coconut meat is used for refined coconut oil. Coconut oil is excellent for skincare as it reduces wrinkles and is a great moisturizer. Further medical benefits include decreasing varicose veins, help with chronic fatigue, better nutrient absorption, and relieving acid reflux. 

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