In layman terminology, coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm. However, botanically it is slotted under a drupe and not a nut. In fact, the coconut is actually the largest seed in the world.
The name ‘coconut’ was coined in 1555 by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The shape of this fruit reminded them of the word ‘coco’ that denoted ‘monkey face’.The coconut first originated in Malaysia, Polynesia and southern parts of Asia. In the former years of the 20th century, it was used as a mode of currency by the inhabitants of the Nicobar Island of the Indian Ocean. The property of floatability made it possible for this fruit to travel through the oceans and reach several other areas, initiating its propagation. Today, coconut is grown in abundance in South America, the Pacific Islands, Florida and Hawaii.
The history of coconut has a strong affiliation to the Indian culture. There is mention of the coconut palm in the early Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures dated back to the 4th century BC and 1st century AD respectively. Even the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata show evidence of its existence in the lives of people.
A coconut tree takes about a year’s time to reap fruit. However, once the tree attains maturity, the yield is produced almost 13 times annually. A coconut tree produces at an average anywhere between 60 to 180 coconuts. The coconut is significant in terms of its wide benefits in areas of food, shelter, fuel and tools. Each part of the plant is useful in some way or the other.
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