Monday, March 30, 2009


The Coconut Tree
Coconut palms have been used since the ancient daya as a source of food, fiber, fuel, water, and shelter. Coconut oil was one of the first, and was the leading vegetable oil until 1962 when eclipsed by soybean oil.

In World wide, 18 billion pounds. coconuts are produced in 92 countries on about 26 million acres with an average yield of 4457 lbs/acre.

Products from Coconut

The primary product from coconut is a dried or fresh endosperm or "meat" of coconutis called copra, the white "meat" found adhering to the inner wall of the shell. It is commonly used in several type of cakes and candies.

The raw copra can be grated and squeezed to obtain coconut milk which can be used for making several candies.

Coconut water is obtained from immature coconuts, providing a welcome source of fresh, sterile water in hot, tropical environments. Coconut oil is expressed from dried or dehydrated copra, which is used in a wide variety of cooked foods and margarine.

Coconut oil can be obtained from a dried copra. In 2002, the coconut oil production was slightly more than the popular olive oil production. The residue left after pressing oil from copra is Coconut cake and is used as livestock feed(animal, fish and farm feed).

When a coconut germinates, a spongy mass forms inside the cavity, so there is no longer water and albumen, but a solid white ball with traces of buttery yellow exterior. It is called as 'coconut apple'. It taste deliciously of coconut, but the texture is moist and yielding, nothing like the hard endosperm it replaces.
[image: Coconut Apple]

The fiber from the husk is called as Coir and is used as packing material, rope, matting, fuel, and in potting mixes.

The leaves of the coconut tree provide materials for baskets, effective roofing materials. The husk and the shells can be used for fuel and are a good source of charcoal. Drained coconuts can be filled with gunpowder and used as Improvised explosive devices.

The sap from the cut-end of an coconut-inflorescence, produces up to a gallon of brown liquid per day, are rich in sugars and vitamin C. It can be boiled down into a brown sugar called "jaggery", and it is being used as a sugar substitute in many areas. Left to ferment, the sap makes an alcoholic toddy, and later vinegar. "Arrack" is made by distilling the toddy, and is a common, potent alcoholic spirit.

The outer part of the trunk of the coconut palm furnishes, a construction of lumber, known as porcupine wood for houses and furniture. The swollen base of the trunk, when hollowed, can be turned into a hula drum that the Hawaiians use for entertainment.

Medicinal Uses

Immature coconut water can be used as an intravenous fluid.

Coconut is commonly used as a traditional home remedy in Pakistan to treat bites from rats.

The monolaurins in the coconut oil have been found to be very powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents in Ayurveda.

The coconut milk can be used as a laxative and also used for healing mouth ulcers (In a study with rats, two coconut based preparations one 'the crude warm water extract of coconut milk' and another the 'coconut water dispersion' were studied for their protective effects on drug-induced gastic ulceration. Both substances offered protection against ulceration, with coconut milk producting a 54% reduction vs. 39% for coconut water.)

Coconut Cultivation

Coconut tree can be adaptable to many soil types, and can be grown inland provided adequate drainage and the pH between 5.0 to 8.0. They grow best in areas with mean temperatures of 70-80F. They needs 40-60" of water per year, and will perform better in a high humidity nature.

Coconut trees are typical single trunked palms, reaching up to 80 to 100 ft in height, but generally 20-50 ft in cultivation. Leaves are among the largest of any plant (up to 20 ft), pinnately compound with 200 or more leaflets, and borne in a spiral arrangement at the apex of the trunk. Leaf life span may be less than 3 years. A mature and healthy palms have about 30 leaves and would form a new one each month and let drop the oldest one.

Fully mature fruit require about one year to ripen, and are colored brown or dark yellowish, depending on cultivar. The endosperm, from which the copra and oil are derived, is mature at 10 months after bloom. For coir production, fruit must be harvested about 1 month before full maturity, since the mesocarp fiber turns brittle and dark at maturity.

The young water coconuts are harvested when about 7 months old, just after fruit reaches its full size and prior to mesocarp starts drying.

Coconut Cultivars

Two major classes of coconuts are typically recognized on the basis of stature: tall and dwarf. The ones most commonly planted for commercial purposes are the tall varieties, which are slow to mature and the first flower will come within six to ten years after planting. They produce medium-to-large size nuts and have a life span of sixty to seventy years. The dwarf varieties may have originated as a mutation of tall types. The dwarf variety shall grow to a height of twenty five to thirty feet and begin flower after three years, being only about three feet tall. Their life span is only about thirty years. Although highly difficult to grow, the dwarf varieties are valued because they bear early and are highly resistant to lethal yellowing disease.

In worldwide there are a considerable number of varieties among tall and dwarf coconut trees. Each major coconut has its own dominant tall variety: Here is a few list: Ceylon Tall, Indian Tall, Jamaica Tall, Malayan Tall, Java Tall, and Laguna (which is a widely grown tall type in the Philippines). There are also many dwarf varieties: Malayan Dwarf, Dwarf Green, and Dwarf Orange from India.

There are also some unusual types of coconut palms in different parts of the world. The Macapuno coconut of the Philippines is famous for having no milk cavity. The jelly-like flesh fills the middle and can be eaten with a spoon. The San Ramon variety from the Philippines produces one of the largest nuts known.