Coconut – Tropical Tree of Life

In this post, am going to give you a few information about the world famous coconut. The coconut palm can be found everywhere in Thailand, and modern Siam belongs to the six largest coconut exporters of the world. But where does this palm actually come from? The spreading of the coconut and the trade and travel routes of human beings can hardly be separated as human being cultivated this plant for thousands of years. DNA surveys showed, that in pre-Columbian times, Austronesian sailors must have carried coconuts as far as Madagascar and the northwest of South America. According to an article of Science Daily (June 24, 2011), a DNA survey showed, that the coconut was brought first under cultivation in Asia. On the basis of the DNA tests, two origins can be distinguished: the Pacific and the Indian Ocean basin. The Portuguese brought the Indian variety to West Africa, from where the coconut found its way to the Caribbean and Brazil. On the Pacific side of the New World however, the Pacific Ocean variety must have been introduced much earlier by pre-Columbian Austronesians sailors. Thus the coconut is probably an Asian plant, which was brought to Africa and the Americans by pre- and post-Columbian traders.

The coconut is a large palm growing up to 30 meters (there is also a cultured dwarf version of the genetic Pacific variety). The leaf clusters can grow up to a length of 6 meters, whereas the single leaves reach a length of about 1 meter. Yields of the palm vary strongly according to environmental factors such as soil quality, sunlight and precipitation. The coconut tree is a monoecious plant (female and male flowers at the same tree), highly tolerant to salty low quality and sandy soils. Further the tree needs a lot of sunlight, water and ideally mean annual temperatures around 27 degrees Celsius. Due to the fact, that most inland areas of the tropics were thickly overgrown (which means no sunlight available at the ground) and due to its resistant to poor and salty soils, the coconut became the ideal plant to conquer the tropical beaches of our world.

The coconut provides fresh and clean water and high-calorie food. From its fresh flesh, the valuable coconut milk can be squeezed out. The flesh can also be dried and kept as a durable food stable or pressed to get coconut oil, which can be used for cooking and the production of various healthcare products. The coconut is an important component of many Thai dishes. It is found in the famous tom yam dishes as well as in various curries and sweets. The coconut fibers can be spun into ropes, and its hard shell can be used for the carving of various products, or can be simply turned into charcoal. Its leaves can, amongst other things, be used for the creation of baskets and roofs. Not at least, the coconuts provided an ideal buoyant for ships.

Coconut was used in traditional medicine around the world. It was used to treat abscesses, asthma, bronchitis, colds, cough, stomach problems, fever, flu, kidney stones, nausea, skin infections, toothache, tumors, ulcers and weakness. Modern medical surveys also showed that this fruit can help to fight viral diseases such as herpes, influenza, bacterial infections like gonorrhea, gum and throat infections, as well as fungi, ringworm, lice and tapeworms. Further the fruit can protect against osteoporosis and boost the immune system.

This entry was posted in Food and medicine, Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Coconut – Tropical Tree of Life

  1. Very informative article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *