Plant Listings

Cocos nucifera

Common Names: Coconut

Family: Arecaceae

Habit: Cocos nucifera grows with a single unbranched trunk (often leaning), up to 30 m in height and 50 cm in diameter although the base gets thicker. The leaves are arranged in a spiral fashion grouped at the growing tip. The leaves are pinnnately compound and up to 7 m in length.

The flowers are arranged in a panicle inflorescence that emerges at the leaf bases from 2 large bracts. The flowers are whitish, monoecious and clustered with 2 male flowers for each female flower. The male flowers have 3 sepals in the calyx, 6 stamens and an infertile ovary. The female flowers are larger than the males, have 3 sepals, 3 petals, infertile stamens and an ovary with 3 locules. The fruit is a 3-sided drupe (40-50 cm long) that turns yellow or brown with age and has a thick fibrous husk around it.

Habitat: Cocos nucifera grows in many habitats from areas of human habitation to sandy beaches.

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Occurs on all islands in the Bahamian Archipelago, and throughout the world in tropic and subtropic areas. It is originally from the asia/pacific region

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Cocos nucifera is used in the Bahamas to cure sore throats.

The flowers can be a important source for honey bees. The fruit is highly edible. It produces a “milk” that can be drunken and a “meat”; that is used in cooking and making of sweets or eaten raw. From the edible portions oils are also extracted for cooking and soap production. The husk and “shell” are used for sculpture and jewelry. The leave can be used for thatch for roofing or plaiting to make hats.

Cocos nucifera is considered one of the most economically important tree species in the world.