The classification of a coconut is a rather debatable issue. This delicacy of the tropical realm is categorized under the head of fruit, seed and at times even nut.
Not only the common population, even scientists tend to differ in their perception of its classification.The coconut plant is a palm cultivated in the tropical areas of the world. Many botanists classify coconut as a seed since it is a seed that germinates into a new plant, and so is true in the case of planting a coconut tree. Some scientists find coconut to be closer to the definition of a fruit as a fruit is a part of the plant that carries the seed.
There are yet other people who categorize the coconut as a nut. Actually, this viewpoint comes rather easily especially to the common man, owing to the suffix 'nut' in its name. Fruits can be biologically be categorized into 14 types, with nuts being one of them. A nut is known to have a hard covering with a single seed enclosed within. Going by this definition, a coconut certainly qualifies for the nut family as it has a hard shell with only one seed. However, there is one fundamental reason that goes against the classification of coconut in the nut family. A nut in real terms is one that releases its seeds only on the decaying of the fruit wall or on digestion by animals. In the case, of a coconut, the seed is only released on maturity.
However, the most convincing argument comes from scientists that believe coconut to be a drupe. A drupe is a fruit with multiple layers and a fleshy inner portion. Fruits put under this head include mango, almond and peach. Coconuts are three layered with exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp; and within these layers is the fleshy coconut meat. However, most drupes show presence of a juicy fleshy portion, which is dry in the case of a coconut. Therefore, scientists have named coconut to be an exclusive dry drupe, the one of its kind in the world.
In terms of its uses, the coconut is utilized in a similar pattern as nuts. Oil is often extracted from nuts. Coconut oil is widely used not only for cooking purposes but it is an important ingredient of many cosmetics such as creams, shampoos and soaps.
Although, scientists in general support the perspective of coconut being a drupe, the debate is endless, as many still find it closer to a nut.
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