How to Care for Coconut Palm Tree

By Susan Brian

The Coconut Palm Tree, botanical name Cocos Nucifera, is not only loved for its appearance but also is used in medicine, cooking, construction and clothing. For some people who live in the islands with limited resources, this palm plays an important role in their survival.

Coconut Palm is a part of Arecaceae family and the genus Cocos. It can be found growing all over the word in warm tropical climates.

Coconut Palm is believed to be original from Indo-Malayan region, but is now widely cultivated all over the world. Although the origin of this plant is uncertain, it is thought to be native to Pacific and Indian Ocean islands. This tree has been found around Asian continent, Africa, Central and South America.

Single grey trunk supports a crown of feathery yellow-green fronds that are about 16ft long. Gracefully arching leaves are covered with 2ft long leaflets. In the wild this palm can reach a height of 80ft, but in cultivation usually doesn't grow more than 50ft.

You will have to wait about 5 years to see flowers on Coconut Palm. Both female and male blooms are born on the same plant. The good news is that this palm bears fruits all year long. Time from pollination to ripe fruit is only 1 year.

The liquid inside of the fruit called "coconut water" is cool and refreshing, often referred to as "perfect drink". Water from a young coconut is tasteless while water from a mature coconut is slightly salty. 6-7 months old coconut has the perfect tasting water that has maximum sweetness and low acidity. One palm yields about 50-80 fruits a year.

All parts of this palm can be used. Coconut water is used in many dishes around the world to flavor soup, snack, vegetables, seafood and meat. It is also used to produce oil that is used for cooking. The sap of the tree is used to make vinegar and wine. Besides cooking, it is used in cosmetics, furniture, clothing and construction.

Coconut palm has also been playing an important role in medicine for many years helping to treat things like tumors, burns, flue, ulcers and more.

Nothing says tropical more than a palm tree near the patio. You can often find this palm planted along the beachside. Expensive resorts plant this tree near swimming pools and outdoor areas to create a tropical paradise ambiance.

This palm thrives in warm and humid weather. The perfect temperature for growth would be 81F (27C) with humidity above 60%. It doesn't tolerate frost or waterlogging very well. This palm can survive drought but the crops will be affected. It can adapt to wide range of soil types including alkaline, saline and infertile soils.

This sun-loving palm needs all the sunlight it can get. Even though it can tolerate some shade, it requires full sun for maximum yield. Few things you should watch out for are nutrient deficiency and serious diseases such as coconut leaf beetle and lethal yellowing.

When fruits are ripe, you need to collect them. It can be done by climbing to the top of the tree and cutting the stem that holds coconuts. In some countries people even train monkeys to bring them coconuts down. You can wait for the coconuts to ripen and fall down. The only problem with that is that they can fall on someone's head.

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