Cocos nucifera

Cocos nucifera

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the palm tree family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus Cocos. The term "coconut" (or the archaic "cocoanut") can refer to the whole coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which botanically is a drupe, not a nut. The name comes from the old Portuguese and Spanish word coco, meaning 'head' or 'skull', after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. They are ubiquitous in coastal tropical regions and are a cultural icon of the tropics.

Scientific Synonyms:
  • Calappa nucifera (L.) Kuntze
  • Cocos indica Royle
Family name:
English name:
  • Coconut
  • King Coconut
  • Coconut Palm
Sinhala name:
  • Pol (පොල්)
  • Thembili (තැඹිලි)
  • Pol gaha (පොල් ගහ )
  • Kurumba (කුරුම්බා )
  • Wewara (වෑවර )
Tamil name:
  • Tennai
  • Thengai
Sanskrit name:
  • Narikela
  • Nalikera
  • Langali
  • Tunga
  • Stem smooth, grey, to c. 35 m height, c.30 cm diameter, swollen at the base with prominent leaf scars. Leaves pinnate, 6- 7 m long ; sheath fibrous, forming a woven supportive network with conspicuous extension opposite the petiole disintegrating eventually. Inflorescence 1- 2 m long, dense with 20- 60 flower- bearing branches. Staminate flowers cream, 5- 7 mm long. Fruit ovoid, 20- 30 cm long, various coloured from dull green to brown and bright orange; epicarp smooth, mesocarp 1- 5 cm thick, fibrous, dry, endocarp 3- 6 mm thick, woody. Seed with narrow layer of homogenous endosperm and a large central cavity partially filled with fluid.
  • Native Distribution Status:
    • Native
    Edible parts:
    • Fruit, phloem sap
    Treatment for:
    • Burning sensation
    • Wounds
    • Gastritis
    • Menorrhogia
    • Dysentery
    • Urinary disorders
    • Polyurea
    • Excessive thirst
    Parts used in Treatment:
    • Roots, flowers, leaves, stems Milk/juice and the flesh, Sap, Oil
    Related Medical Properties:
    • Encourages hair growth


    Besides the edible kernels and the drink obtained from green nuts, the harvested coconut also yields copra, the dried extracted kernel, or meat, from which coconut oil, a major vegetable oil, is expressed. The Philippines and Indonesia lead in copra production, and throughout the South Pacific copra is one of the most important export products. The meat may also be grated and mixed with water to make coconut milk, used in cooking and as a substitute for cow’s milk. The dry husk yields coir, a fibre highly resistant to salt water and used in the manufacture of ropes, mats, baskets, brushes, and brooms.

    Although the coconut finds its greatest commercial utilization in the industrial countries of the Western world, its usefulness in its native areas of culture is even greater. Indonesians claim that coconuts have as many uses as there are days in a year. Other useful products derived from the coconut palm include toddy, palm cabbage, and construction materials. Toddy, a beverage drunk fresh, fermented, or distilled, is produced from the sweetish sap yielded by the young flower stalks when wounded or cut; toddy is also a source of sugar and alcohol. Palm cabbage, the delicate young bud cut from the top of the tree, is, like the buds from other palms, eaten as a salad vegetable. Mature palm leaves are used in thatching and weaving baskets. The fibrous, decay-resistant tree trunk is incorporated into the construction of huts; it is also exported as a cabinet wood called porcupine wood.

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