Photo credit: Jessica Teo

A solitary coastal palm, Coconut (Cocos nucifera) is fast-growing and can reach up to 30 m in height. It has a tall, slender grey stem that is ringed with old leaf scars. This means that when the leaf dies off, it falls cleanly from the trunk, leaving a neat rectangular pattern of circular scars.

It prefers sunny conditions with sandy medium. While it requires moderate watering only, the soil should be consistently moist. The palm is able to adapt to a wide range of soil types, tolerating slight acidity and alkaline, and has unparalleled tolerance to severe coastal conditions.

It propagates by its seeds. Seedlings can develop from old nuts if left on the ground. The water or juice from the Coconut’s fruit is known for its refreshing and nutritious qualities and the flesh inside the hard shell is also eaten. Coconut oil and coconut milk can be extracted from the flesh; coconut milk is used in preparing curries and local desserts. The Coconut’s palm fronds can be plaited into a wrap for the ketupat, a traditional Malay rice cake served during festive occasions.

Learn more about this palm

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