The coconut palm is a member of the Areacaceae (Palm) family. It is the only species in the genus of Cocos and is large palm, growing up to 100 ft. tall, with pinnate leaves 12-20 ft. long and 2-3 ft. wide. The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropical world for decoration as well as for culinary and non-culinary uses. Coconut-like plants grew as long as 15 million years ago, and even older fossils have been uncovered in the state of Kerala (“land of coconut palms”) in India.
In the USA, coconut palms are grown throughout Hawaii and southern Florida. In India, coconuts are predominantly in coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Coconut palms are also increasingly found in inland areas where irrigation is available.
Coconut in spiritual traditions
Coconut is called narikela in the Indian language of Hindi. The narikela is an essential element of several rituals in Hindu religious tradition, offered during worship to Hindu gods and goddesses. In wedding ceremonies, a coconut is placed over the opening of a pot representing the womb. Hindus often initiate the beginning of any new activity by breaking a coconut to ensure the blessings of the gods.
The versatility of the coconut
Virtually every part of the coconut palm has a human use:
- The white coconut flesh is edible and used fresh or dried (copra).
- Coconut water — which contains sugar, fiber, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals — is a highly nutritious food source. It is used as a refreshing drink throughout the humid tropics.
- Coconut milk is made by processing grated coconut with hot water. Coconut milk is used to produce virgin coconut oil, used in medicine, cosmetics, and cooking.
- The coconut fiber, or husk, is used in making ropes, mats, brushes, and caulking boats. It is extensively used in horticulture as a potting compound and soil amendment.
Introducing coco coir
Coconut coir fiber is a natural and organic soil conditioner derived from the coconut husk. It is a byproduct in the process of de-certification of the coconut husk to make coir fiber. The powder obtained during the process is sieved, washed in water, sun-dried and finally compressed into various sizes.
Read more about Gani Coco Coir and its applications for gardening.