The coconut palm tree
is probably the most well known of all the palms because of its delicious fruit. With that then why is a symbol of relaxation? It should be a symbol of good health.
There are a lot of recipes that would be pretty boring if it wasn’t for the coconut. Tropical drinks just wouldn’t be the same.
These are the most economically important trees to many different island cultures. To them they mean life itself.
It is in a class by itself being the most widely tree used on the planet today.
The coconut palm has a very similar appearance to many different species of feather leaf palms.
For people unfamiliar to the many different kinds they almost assume any large feather palm is of the coconut variety.
What complicates matters even more is that there are several varieties.
They have adapted and changed to many different growing conditions around the world.
The adaptation and growers in the various regions have selected trees for propagation that are of the size and fruit that do best in their area.
There are a few that have been bred to be smaller. These work especially well for landscape placement. The dwarf varieties get only to about 60 feet tall at most. Even smaller if not in their natural habitat.
The tall varieties can get up to an impressive 100 feet or more.
What is for sure is they all have feather leaves.. Their medium green to yellow/paler green (depending on variety) leaves can reach anywhere from 12-15 feet long.
The leaflet presents as coming flat out of the stem. In other words horizontally. There is no twist or ruffle look to them but will begin to droop as they get older. There is no crownshaft.
The new leaves appear from the very top and center of the tree. The flower bracts will present as pods in amongst the leaves.
There are flowers of both sexes on the same tree. They are more branching and are a pale to bright yellow color. The pollinated flowers will begin to produce the fruit we all know and love.
The fruits can present as different colors as well. It will all depend on the variety and the age of the fruit. The younger fruits will be lighter, brighter and smaller.
You should be able to recognize them as coconut palm trees regardless of the color. Most other palms that are this size have much smaller fruits. A great example is the royal palm. It's fruits only get to be around an inch or so in diameter.
The trunks can range in color as well. They could be anywhere from a yellow brown to a light or dark gray depending on the age of the tree and where it originated.
There will however be some telltale scars on the trunk left behind from leaves past. The young trees may have some fiber like material stuck to the trunk. In older trees you'll see this fibrous material hanging around between the old leaf bases that are still attached after pruning.
These old leaf bases will fall off once they dry out bringing the fiber material down with them.
Starting coconut palms from seed is fairly easy. If you are lacking shade in your yard or on the beach you frequent, you can plant a seed (a coconut).
Plant so that it is only about 1/2 covered with soil at the most.
Wait a few months to a year later and it should start to sprout. This is one palm tree seed that doesn't have to be buried or cleaned of the husk. It will sprout without doing either if it is warm enough.
If you are considering a coconut palm tree for your landscape just keep in mind that they may not grow totally straight up and down.
If they are too shaded they will grow to have their canopy reaching for the sun. Sometimes they don't even need a reason to bend.
Coconut palm trees grow the best in areas with high humidity and average daily temps of 25° C or 70° F.
They can grow in all types of soil from clay to sand and are very salt tolerant. That's why you'll see them right at the ocean's edge.
With that being said they also have a drought tolerance.
Just so you know these trees will produce fruit for upwards of 80 years.
They could suffer from a mineral deficiency causing fronds to turn yellow or brown prematurely. It will all depend on the soil they are in and the fertilizer you use.
It's best to give them a palm fertilizer/mineral mix every12 weeks or so and water regularly if there is a drought. Then they will grow faster and stronger.
Another cause of discolored leaves is lethal yellowing disease.
Coconut palm trees are one of the types that are prone to it. Some are now being cultivated to have a resistance. Check with a palm tree nursery to find out which variety is preforming the best.
The coconut tree pictured here is one we have in our yard in the Dominican.
This is our tallest one and the fruit it produces is a bit different than the others.
The coconut is more dense and requires more scrapping to remove.
The fruit in this variety also has a bit more flavor than the others so I use it for cooking and baking.
It produces fruits that are a tan/brown with a hint of yellow.
The others we have produce fruits that are green on the outside.
The fruit inside is softer almost more like a jelly lining and is removed easily. We consider them our coconut water producers.
Expert climber in the coconut palm
Below:coconut water producers
Coconut palm trees do need pruning mostly for safety sake. Not so much the leaves as with the
bunches of fruit. It's no joke to have any size coconut hit you from
that high up.
Best to get some professionals- we get the locals- who are experienced with this.
With no branches to hold onto it takes some special learning, and no fear of heights to get the job done.
It's okay to trim the flowers or fruits at anytime.
The leaves are best trimmed so that any hanging below the 9 and 3 positions (like the hands of a clock) are the only ones taken.
Any more and you may stress your tree leaving it more susceptible to disease and insect attacks.
Plus believe it or not the more leaves left on the tree the better they do in a hurricane.
Here's an article showing different ways of pruning. There's before and after photos of what they looked like once hurricane Wilma hit in Florida.
I bet you never thought you could grow your very own coconut palm tree?
The Malayan variety has great reviews and can live indoors easily for the first few years with enough light.
Move him outdoors to the patio or poolside for the summer.
Great way to enhance your little slice of paradise!
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