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Facts about the Coconut Tree - Detailed Description and Uses

Updated on January 18, 2017
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The coconut flower
The coconut flower | Source
The coconut fruit
The coconut fruit | Source
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The coconut tree can truly be called the all giving tree of life. Each and every part of the coconut tree is utilized in some form or the other. Coconut trees need a lot of sunlight and well-aerated soil.They flourish in the tropical regions where the climate is hot, humid and have abundant rainfall.

They grow well in aerated sandy soil near the shorelines and are resistant to the salinity of the sea water.

They are grown in abundance in India, Sri Lanka, Hawaiian Islands, Polynesia, Philippines, Malaysia, South America, Brazil, Florida and California.

There are two types of coconut trees –the tall variety and the dwarf variety. The tall varieties are slow to mature, and the first flower appears after six – ten years. They have a life span of about sixty to seventy years. The dwarf variety has a life span of about thirty years. They bear fruits earlier than the tall varieties.

Description of the Coconut Tree

The botanical name of the coconut tree is Cocos nucifera. It belongs to the palm family (Arecaceae). This tree has a thick solid trunk and grows up to a height of 30 meters. The coconut tree has a crown of leaves at the top most part of the trunk.

The coconut tree has shallow fibrous roots. The leaves of the coconut tree are pinnate in the arrangement. There is a thick central structure that grows to 4 - 6 meters in length. On this structure, many long narrow leaves grow on either side and are 60 - 90 cm long.

The male and female flowers are found in the same inflorescence ( a group of flowers arranged on a long stalk) on the same tree. The flowers are pollinated by the wind and are a light yellow to dark yellow in color. The coconut inflorescence is used for decoration purposes.

The coconut fruit is a fibrous one-seeded drupe (a drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed). It is oval and green in color when it is unripe. As the fruit ripens, it turns yellow to reddish yellow in color.

Medicinal Uses of the Coconut Tree

The coconut water is an excellent source of hydration for the body. It is low in fat and cholesterol content.

Coconut water is rich in chloride and potassium and contains natural sugars. It is readily absorbed into the blood being an isotonic electrolyte.

Coconut water boosts metabolism, aids digestion, cleanses and detoxifies the blood.

Coconut oil extracted from the flesh of the coconut is used for hair and skin care.

Benefits of coconut oil for the skin -

  • coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for the skin and is used to treat many skin conditions
  • it relieves minor insect bite irritations and reduces inflammation of the skin
  • coconut oil is loaded with antioxidants that help to prevent aging of the skin
  • it smooths dry and chapped skin
  • protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun
  • used in treating skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis

Coconut oil is an important ingredient in many cosmetic products.

Other Uses of the Coconut Tree

The trunk of the coconut tree produces a wood called porcupine wood that is used as a building material. It is used to make canoes, poles, rafters and fences.

The huge leaves are woven together to make thatched roofs.

The fibrous husk of the coconut also known as coir is used for making cushions, mattresses, ropes, brushes and stuffing fiber. It is extensively used in horticulture for making potting compost.

The thick central midribs of the coconut leaves are used to make baskets, mats, for tying logs together.

The thick white fleshy layer of the coconut is used in cooking to make a variety of dishes. It is also eaten plain and used to make salads.

The coconut has a juice called coconut water. The top of the green coconut is cut off, and a straw is fitted through this hole to sip the delicious and sweet coconut water. This coconut water is sweet and refreshing. It is a source of instant energy. The coconut water is also rich in antioxidants, proteins, and vitamins.

Coconut milk is extracted from the white fleshy part of the coconut. This milk is used to flavor soups, snacks, and vegetables. The remaining coconut chunks from coconut milk production is used as cattle feed.

The sap of the coconut tree is used to make an alcoholic drink (tuba). This sap is also used to make wine and vinegar.

If the nut remains on the tree and continues to ripen, the outside becomes harder, and the fleshy inner lining thickens, and the coconut water becomes tasteless.The thickened layer is called copra. The copra is used to extract coconut oil. This oil is used for cooking, and in making margarine, cosmetics, soaps and candles.

The empty shells are used to make wooden bowls; they are used as a cooking fuel and in the production of gas masks and air filters.

The roots are used to make natural dyes and in making herbal medicines.

The coconut shell is used to make coconut jewelry such as beads, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and bangles. They are also carved out to create coconut buttons for Hawaiian aloha shirts.

The shells are used to buff floors. It is a good source of charcoal and is widely used as an industrial and stove fuel. Activated Charcoal is also produced from the coconut shell.

The coconut shell is also used to make musical instruments -Hawaiian Niuu Kani Ukulele, Hawaiian Knee Drum, Ektara, Kalimba, etc.


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    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome, comprehensive hub!! I love using coconut oil as moisturizer. I just buy it in the cooking oil section of the store and moisturize my face and feet with it. It has antifungal properties, too. :) I learned a lot more about coconut than I ever knew before in this hub. Many votes. :)

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      cclitgirl thank you for your appreciation and votes. I use coconut oil a lot for my skin.

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 5 years ago

      Great teaching hub. It seems that a lot of hard work was put into this and I could feel it while reading it. Excellent job.

      Stay Well

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      glmclendon thank you for your appreciation. It's great to share knowledge with others.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I have two coconut trees in my front yard, the tall kind. They do indeed provide us with many benefits, and as you posted, they are a tree of life. Thanks for the interesting and useful information. I didn't realize that they were used to make things such as boats. The coconut mango ice cream sounds yummy and the musical video was quite interesting (they make such pretty tunes).

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 coconut is really delicious and the coconut water is amazing.Thank you for reading and leaving an insightful comment.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

      I have coconut oil but just look at it and wonder what to do with it. Now I guess I will just rub it on my face! I love coconut. Sonic has a new coconut shake that is fantastic. You can eat it with the straw!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Pollyannalana the coconut shake sounds delicious, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

      What an excellent hub. I use lots of skincare products made from the coconut extracts as I know its benefits, but I have never given much thought as to the facts about where it all comes from. Your article is well constructed with great information explaining the backgrounds. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      KatrineDalMonte thank you for your appreciation and a thoughtful comment.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Vellur, thank you for this wonderful hub, you have covered so much!

      I always use coconut oil and love coconut water - The ice cream sounds delicious!

      Voting up and shared.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Well presented hub! I've been giving coconut oil to my dog. He laps it up, and it helps his itching problems immensely! I think it's neat how all of the coconut and plant are used. Well done!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Movie Master thank you for your apprecaition and votes. Thanks for sharing too, very much elated.

      Victoria Lynn coconut oil really helps with all skin problems. Thanks for stopping by.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      coconut - the tree of life. Nice and very interesting hub with full of information.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      snowdrops coconut trees are very useful, thank you.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      An interesting look at a very important plant--thanks.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      RTalloni thanks for stopping by.

    • Vinodkpillai profile image

      Vinodkpillai 4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Excellent hub Nithya! I have grown up among coconut palms and your hub with its beautiful pictures brought back memories of coconut fronds swaying in the monsoon winds. It's such a useful tree that it's no wonder that it is referred to as kalpavruksha!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Vinodkpillai you are so right, it is a true Kalpavruksha. Am happy my hub brought back great memories, thank you for stopping by.

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      Thanks for writing about this wonderful plant. I do wish we have here though. Voted up and useful/interesting.

    • profile image

      tattuwurn 4 years ago

      Here in the Philippines, parts of the leaves are made into hardy cleaning brooms ("walis tingting") as well. I love coconut based drinks and coconut milk-based savory dishes. Thanks for giving props to our favorite tree. Voted up, etc. :)

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      iguidenetwork thank you for reading and the vote up. Yes it would be nice if you could have it in your place.

      tattuwurn I love them too!! Coconuts are awesome to include in dishes and to make desserts!!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is fine hub on the multi uses of the coconut fruit and tree. Voted up and useful and shared.

    • vnsatakopan profile image

      Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Very interesting hub on the various uses of the coconut tree. I am a big fan of coconut milk. Voted up.

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Sure are a lot of things that can be done with the coconut and it's tree. I like eating the flesh raw.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      rajan jolly thank you for stopping by, thanks for the vote and share.

      vnsatakopan thank you, I love to drink coconut water. You get the very best in Kerala.

      Angelo52, yes the raw coconut scrapings taste great, thank you for stopping by.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Coconut is really a wonderful tree. Thanks for sharing the information.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Very informative hub. I´m fond of coconut specially drinking the fresh coconut water and using the coconut milk in cooking. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and more;-)

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      ingnugent17 thank you for stopping by. Coconut is really too good!! Thanks for the vote up too.

      Thelma Alberts me too, thank you for stopping by and the vote. Sweets dishes made from coconut is really awesome!!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Ingnugent thank you for stopping by,coconut is very useful and is good for health too.

      Thelma Alberts anything cooked with coconut as an ingredient tastes delicious. Thank you for stopping by.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Dear

      Wonderful article and thanks for sharing your knowledge. As I am coming from Kerala, a land rich with coconut trees, the topic interests me a lot. For your info, I have written a hub on the topic with title: Kerala, the Land of Coconut Trees. If you have time pls visit the same.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      sunnilkunnoth2012 thank you for stopping by, Kerala is God's own country.

    • mercuryservices profile image

      Alex Munkachy 4 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      There is no other drink quite like drinking ice cold coconut water directly out of a chilled young coconut cracked open with a machete.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Oh yes, it is delicious. Thank you for stopping by.

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