The coconut tree is a member of the palm tree family and the only living species of the genus Cocos. The term "coconut" can refer to the whole coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which botanically is a drupe, not a nut. The scientific name of coconut is Cocos nucifera and belongs to the family Arecaceae.

Coconut palms are found in tropical coastal areas nearly worldwide and probably originated somewhere in Indo-Malaya. They are the most economically important palm species, coconuts being one of the predominant crops of the tropics.

Table of Contents


30 metres (100 ft)

Width-Circumference (Avg)

15 meters

Approximate pH

5.2 – 8.6

Growth Factors of Coconut Tree

The best utilization of growth factors by palms is obtained at pH 6.0 at equal concentration of Ca and potash. A good potassium status (300 kg) as exchangeable K/ha requires 10 times more Ca (3000 kg CaO) for adequate nutrient balance. Thus Ca:K interaction in soils and plants is observed.

Varieties of Coconut

Coconut palms can be classified according to the size and stature of the palm, and are referred to as Talls and Dwarfs. They are also monoecious. In other words, they consist of male and female flowers on the same inflorescence (spadix) that develops within a woody spathe. Depending on the variety of the coconut trees, the male and female flowers develop at same or different times. As the coconut tree is propagated by seed, they are subjected to some variations which can be distinguished in the trees, fruits and leaves. As such, there are hundreds of vernacular names for the coconut types


Tall coconut palms are usually cross-pollinated, and are subjected to the most variations. They are classified by the location where they are grown, assuming that some uniformity in the population is developed in one location across several generations, adapting to drought, high rainfall, alkaline soil or resistance to various insects and diseases long established in the specific location. It is classified as

  • East Coast Tall Coconut

  • West Coast Tall Coconut

  • Maypan Coconut

  • Panama Tall

  • Jamaican Tall

Tall coconut palms have longer economic lives than Dwarf trees, typically about 60-80 years, and can live up to 100 years old under favourable conditions. They also have larger fronds than Dwarf trees, so fewer Tall coconut trees can be planted per hectare of land. Tall coconut palms are also fairly resistant to diseases and pests, except some virus diseases, and thrive under different soil conditions. After six to eight years of planting, Tall coconut palms will begin to bear fruits.


Dwarf coconut palms are mostly self-pollinated, and have fewer variations compared to Tall varieties. They are classified by the colour of the coconut fruits produced. As the name suggests, Dwarf coconut palms are smaller in stature than Tall varieties.

Dwarf coconut palms have shorter economic lives than Tall palms and only live up to 60 years old. With smaller fronds, more Dwarf coconut trees can be planted per hectare of land. Compared to Tall coconut trees, Dwarf varieties cannot adapt as well to different soil conditions, and are more susceptible to diseases, although they do show good resistance to some virus diseases. However, they begin to bear fruits earlier, after only three years of planting. At about 10 years old, they come into regular fruiting. Similar to Tall varieties, the bigger the coconuts, the lesser number of fruits found per bunch. The dwarf coconut palms are:

  • Chowghat Orange Dwarf Coconut

  • Malayan Dwarf Coconut

  • Macapuno Coconut

  • Fiji Dwarf

  • King Coconut


Hybrids are inter-varietal crosses between two morphological forms of coconut trees. In particular, hybrids from Dwarf and Tall, Tall and Tall varieties also produce high-yielding coconut palms. In general, hybrid coconut palms are more superior in terms of quality and quantity of copra production. They also contain the greatest amount of copra per nut. As such, they are usually selected for commercial planting.

The hybrid crosses between Dwarf and Tall varieties have exhibited marked hybrid vigour by having the advantages found in both palms. As such, high yielding hybrid coconut trees are resistant to environmental stress, including drought and diseases. They also bear fruits after three to four years of planting. Compared to Dwarf and Tall varieties, hybrid coconut palms have more nut yields and higher copra production. The copra and oil produced are also of better quality.

Growing Coconut Tree

1. Germinating Your Coconut Seed

Choose the perfect nut to incubate. The ideal nut will have lots of water inside that will slosh around when you shake it. Make sure that the nut still in its husk.

  • You can use a coconut that has dropped to the ground or one from a store.

Place the coconut in a bucket of lukewarm water. Use a stone or weight to keep the coconut submerged. Leave the nut in the bucket for 3-4 days.

  • This process will soften the coconut and accelerate the germination process.

Fill a zip-lock plastic bag with 1 cup (240 mL) of water. Place the nut in the bag and seal it. Store the bag in a warm, dark location for up to 3 months.

  • An example of a good place to store the coconut is by a water heater.

Check on the coconut every week for germination. Once the nut has sprouted and started to grow roots, gently wrap a damp paper towel around the roots and place the seed back into the bag.

  • The seed will be fully developed when the sprout is approximately as long as your finger and the roots have reached a length of 6 inches (15 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm).

2. Planting Your Tree

Mix your planting soil. Use a mixture of half potting soil and half sand. Also add some fine gravel or vermiculite to help aerate the soil.

  • If you plan on planting your coconut outside, you do not need to use premixed soil. Find a place outside that has loose, well-draining soil.

  • You can also buy a specialized potting soil, such as Kokohum.

Put the germinated coconut in the soil. Place the nut into the soil with the pointed end down. Make sure that 1/3 of the coconut sticks out of the soil.

  • If you are planting your tree inside, use a pot that is at least 10 inches (25 cm) deep and has a diameter large enough to accommodate the seed.

Give your coconut tree plenty of water and sunlight. Water the tree at least 2 times per week so the soil is moist but not too wet. Make sure that the tree gets lots of light, but not constant brightness. Some shade is preferable.

  • For outdoor plants, you can make a mini greenhouse. Put bamboo stakes into the ground around the tree. Wrap plastic wrap around the sticks and across the top. Remove the greenhouse when the tree is 1 foot (0.30 m) tall.

  • Keep indoor trees moist by spraying both sides of the leaves with water.

3. Maintaining Your Tree

Keep your coconut tree watered and warm. Coconut trees need a temperature of at least 72 °F (22 °C) but grow best at temperatures above 80 °F (27 °C).

  • It's really important to mimic the conditions of where the tree grows naturally.

Fertilize your plant after 1 year. After the first year, use a rotary spreader to apply fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound (0.45 kg) per 100 square feet (9.3 m2). Use a fertilizer that is rich in certain nutrients, including boron, manganese, and magnesium.

  • During the first year of growth, the tree will absorb nutrients from inside the nut.

Harvest the coconuts and enjoy. Your tree will mature and begin to yield fruit after 5 years. Once the tree starts to flower, it will take 7-12 months for the coconuts to fully mature.

  • A fully-grown coconut in its husk will weigh approximately 6 pounds (2.7 kg).

Pests and Diseases

Coconuts are susceptible to the phytoplasma disease lethal yellowing. One recently selected cultivar, "Maypan," an F1 hybrid coconut of the Malayan Dwarf and the Panama Tall, has been bred for resistance to this disease. The fruit may also be damaged by eriophyid mites.

The coconut is also used as a food plant by the larvae of many Lepidoptera species, including the followingL Batrachedra spp: B. arenosella, B. atriloqua (feeds exclusively on Cocos nucifera), B. mathesoni (feeds exclusively on Cocos nucifera), and B. nuciferae.

The coconut hispine beetle or Brontispa longissima gestro feeds on young leaves and damages seedlings and mature coconut palms.

Benefits of Coconut

  • Highly nutritious

  • May benefit heart health

  • May promote blood sugar control

  • Contains powerful antioxidants

  • May support weight loss

  • May aid digestive health

  • May benefit your brain

  • May improve immunity

  • Have antimicrobial effects

  • May help reduce seizures

  • May improve oral health

  • May help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

  • May protect your hair


Flesh of a Coconut: Milk, Food & Flour

Most people think of this as the first application. The fruit of a coconut tree can be eaten, and this is the plant's most common use. Coconuts are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Coconut milk is also widely used. It's popular in many Asian cuisines, particularly in South India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It is commonly used to thicken soups and stews, and it can also be used as a milk substitute if you are allergic to milk.

The fruits can also be processed into coconut flour. The flour is frequently used as a gluten-free alternative.

The Coconut Flowers: Medicine

Coconut flowers have a variety of medicinal applications. They are used in many traditional remedies, particularly those for new mothers.

The Husks: Ropes

This is one of the most important applications for coconuts, at least for the many people who make a living from them. Many people in rural areas make a living by making ropes out of coconut husk, which is a profitable business. However, this is a difficult task that necessitates a lot of manual labor. People work in coir factories in large groups to make ropes and mats from coconut husks.

Stick of Coconut Tree: Brooms

coconut husk have thick sticks that can be used to make home brooms! To make the broom, simply connect the sticks and tie them together with thread. Coconut brooms are made for both domestic and commercial use.

Coconut Tree Woods: Fires in Traditional Kitchens

In traditional kitchens, fires are made from coconut husks, shells, leaves, leaf stems, and flower stems.

Uses of Coconut Tree Leaves: Thatching

The leaves of coconut palms are enormous and aesthetically pleasing. People have used these leaves to make fences and roofs for their small huts, and they are still used for thatching in many places. They are inexpensive and provide shelter for many people who cannot afford other materials.

They are sometimes used not only to make roofs, but also to make house walls. Making houses out of palm leaves may not be the best option because they cannot withstand extreme weather conditions and pose safety risks, but in many places, people still rely on this tree to provide shelter.

Shells of Coconut Tree: To Steam Food & Craft

The fruit's hard shell is also useful. It has traditionally been used in households to steam food. Shells are also popular as a craft material. Coconut shells are used to make a variety of beautiful craft items.

Delicious Water of Coconut: A Healthy & Refreshing Drink

Coconut water is not the same as coconut milk. When you break open the fruit's hard shell, you'll find a mildly sweet water inside that's known for its extreme health benefits. During the summer, this wonderful natural drink is very popular. Coconut water from young, tender coconuts is sweeter and more flavorful.

Coconut Oil: For Cooking, Hair & Skin

Because of its distinct and appealing flavor, coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years. It is even used in many recipes as a substitute for butter. Because this oil contains more saturated fat than oils like olive or canola, its impact on health is debatable. The Lauric acid in coconut oil, on the other hand, is thought to be excellent for health because it boosts immunity and can protect against a variety of illnesses.

Husks of Coconut Tree: A Natural Scrubber & Craft Material

The coconut husk has a variety of applications. They can be used to clean dinner plates, cups, other vessels, and even the floor as natural scrubbers. Coconut husks are also used as a craft material to make a variety of beautiful items.

Cultural Aspects

Coconuts are extensively used in Hindu religious rites. Coconuts are usually offered to the gods, and a coconut is smashed on the ground or on some object as part of an initiation or inauguration of building projects, facility, ship, and so forth. This act signifies a sacrifice of ego, the idea that wealth stems from divinity, and the idea that, if due credit is not given, bad karma is taken on. In Hindu mythology it is referred as Kalpavruksha. In Hindu mythologies, it is said that Kalapavruksha gives what is asked for.

  • The Indonesian tale of Hainuwele tells a story of the introduction of coconuts to Seram.

  • The people of the state of Kerala in southern India consider Kerala to be the "Land of Coconuts"; nalikerathinte naadu in the native language.

  • "Coconut" is New Zealand slang for a Tongan, or other person of "Polynesian" descent, although usually not Maori.

  • Kurumba is used as a term for coconut (Maldives).

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