C. nucifera palms are unbranched, monoecious trees with smooth, columnar, light grey-brown trunk, usually 9-18 m height and sometimes taller (up to 30 m); dwarf selections also exist. Leaves pinnate, feather shaped, 4-7 m long and 1-1.5 m wide at the broadest part. Leaf stalks 1-2 cm in length and thorn-less. Inflorescence consists of female and male axillary flowers. Flowers are small and light yellow, in clusters that emerge from canoe-shaped sheaths among the leaves. Male flowers are small and more numerous. Female flowers 1 or fewer than male flowers; larger, spherical structures, about 25 mm in diameter. Fruit a drupe, roughly ovoid, up to 30 cm long and 20 cm wide, composed of a thick, fibrous husk surrounding a somewhat spherical nut with a hard, brittle, hairy shell. The fruit consists of (from the outside to in) a thin hard skin (exocarp), a thicker layer of fibrous mesocarp (husk), the hard endocarp (shell), the white endosperm (kernel), and a large cavity filled with watery liquid (coconut water or milk). The endosperm is soft and jellylike when immature but becomes firm with maturity. Coconut water or milk is abundant in unripe fruit but is gradually absorbed as ripening proceeds. The fruits are green at first, turning brownish as they mature; yellow varieties go from yellow to brown. The species is a common component of island and coastal ecosystems around the world, occurring in more than 80 countries across Asia, Africa, America and Oceania.
Coconut is essentially a crop of the humid tropics. It is fairly adaptable with regard to temperature and water supply, and so highly valued that it is still common near the limits of its ecological zone. The annual sunlight requirement is estimated at above 2000 hours, with maybe a lower limit of 120 hours per month. The optimum mean annual temperature is estimated at about 27°C, with an average diurnal variation between 5 and 7°C. For good nut yields, a minimum monthly mean of 20°C is required. Temperatures below 7°C may seriously damage young coconut palms, but varietal differences exist in low temperature tolerance.
Evenly-distributed rainfall above 2000 mm and a high relative humidity are preferred, but the leaves are designed to minimize water loss and can stand drought periods of several months. Hence groundwater (for example, on coastal plains) and irrigation can replace rains, but water shortage reduces yields.
The coconut palm thrives on a wide range of soils, from coarse sand to clay, provided the soils have adequate drainage and aeration, but does best on well-drained sandy soils. It tolerates alkaline soils with pH 8 and acid soils with pH 4.5 or higher. The species tolerates saline and infertile soils as well as salt-spray conditions.
All plants, including the coconut palm tree are known as autotroph. An autotroph is any organism that makes its own food. They use light, water, and other chemical like carbon dioxide to produce food for itself, and plants do this in a process known as photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, plants produce their food as a product known as glucose. Some of the glucose is stored as fruit of the plant. and the remaining is used for respiration.
The coconut is mostly dispersed by the humans when the coconut falls from the tree. And sometimes by the sea or water when it falls to sea, such cases it would be carried to miles.
The fruit of the tree is the most utilized nut in the world and the tree itself is the most important member of the palm family.
Foliage grows on top of the trunk. The yellowish-green leaves are 8 to 18 feet long with a width of 3 to 5 feet. The tree sheds and produces 10 to 15 leaves every year. The feathery-textured foliage is pinnate and grows on 3- to 5-foot long, spineless stalks. At the age of 4 to 6 years, coconut trees start to produce flowers in the form of canoe-like inflorescences. Inflorescences are 2 to 3 feet in length. The light yellow, smaller male flowers grow at the ends of the branchlets while the larger female flowers grow at the base.
The ovoid fruit is about 15 inches long and 12 inches wide. A thick, fibrous husk covers the fruit or the nut within. The nut, which is 10 to 12 inches long, has a diameter of 6 to 8 inches with distinct sunken holes, referred to as eyes, at one end. Immature nuts have white, gelatinous flesh that gradually matures to a 1-inch thick meat called copra. The inner nut contains a watery liquid called coconut milk. Younger fruit has more milk that gradually dries to create the meat in mature nuts.
The coconut tree starts to bear fruit within six to 10 years of seed germination. The full production age is achieved at 15 to 20 years. A healthy coconut tree continues to produce a full harvest until the age of 80 years, with a count of 50 to 200 fruits per tree over the course of a lifetime. Fruit count is affected by cultivar and climatic conditions. It takes about a year for the fruit to reach maturity on tree. Coconut palms continue to flower and fruit throughout the year.
It is Abundant.
Maldivians place tremendous importance on the abundant coconut palms, they are represented in the national flag of Republic of Maldives by the green rectangle; the coconut palm is also the national tree of Maldives. Cocos nucifera L., or, Dhivehi ruh (Dhivehi name), is considered to be one of the 10 most useful trees in the world. All parts of it can be used – there is no waste. The coconut fruit is an important food source for people and is an essential part of Maldivian cuisine, the juice of a young fruit, ‘kurumba’, is a delicious, refreshing drink. The ripe coconut is used with dried fish, in short eats or as coconut milk. Leaves and branches are used in roofing; the branches are also used for making local brooms, essential for the daily sweeping of the roads and paths on the islands. Often in the resorts you can admire decorations, baskets and hats made out of these branches. Coconut shells are a good source of fuel keeping a fire burning for a long time. Starch can be extracted from the stem and made into flour. Fibres, called coir, are woven into mats, rope and bags and can also be used as padding in mattresses. Palm wood is carved into ornaments and the root can be used as a dye. The coconut and root are also used medicinally. You can find this tree in every islands.