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Coco palm

Palmaceae: Cocos nucifera L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

The coconut palm may reach to 100 feet or more. The leaves are very large, up to 18 feet long, with lanceolate leaflets up to 3 feet long. The fruits are produced in clusters near the growing tip. They vary in shape, but are generally near globose to oblong, up to a foot or more in length. The nut is encased in a thick, fibrous husk which is persistent and must be cut away to expose the nut. The shell is very hard and woody, near 0.25 inch thick. The edible, oily flesh or kernel adheres to the shell, and is about 0.25 inch thick, with a hollow center which contains a liquid during growth. The dried flesh or meat is the copra of commerce, produced in great quantities mainly for its oil.

Season, fruit set to maturity: 8 to 10 months.

Production in the U.S.: Only 133,000 pounds in shell, 1959 census (Puerto Rico not included). About 300,000 tons copra imported.

Use: Mainly oil used in cooking fats, soaps, etc. Also used in confections, cookery. A principal item of diet in tropical countries.

Part of plant consumed: Internal kernel and oil from it.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch