The Coconut (ತೆಂಗಿನಕಾಯಿ in Kannada, ತಾರಾಯಿ in Tulu, नारियल in Hindi and തേങ്ങ in Malayalam) is a member of the palm family. It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnate 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the seed of the coconut palm. An alternate spelling is coconut.
The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropical world, for decoration as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some human uses. It is known as Kalpavraksha (In Kannada ಕಲ್ಪವ್ರಕ್ಷ , tree that gives whatever you wish)
The coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by seafaring people. The fruit is light and buoyant and presumably spread significant distances by marine currents. Fruits collected from the sea as far north as Norway have been found to be viable (and subsequently germinated under the right conditions). In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in the South Pacific. They are now almost ubiquitous between 26ºN and 26ºS.
The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously, with female flowers producing seeds. Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some dwarf varieties are self-pollinating. Coconuts also come with a liquid that is clear like water but sweet. The “Nut” of the coconut is edible and is in the shape of a ball or is on the inside sides of the coconut.
Origin of Coconut
The origins of this plant are the subject of controversy, with most authorities claiming it is native to South Asia (particularly the Ganges Delta), while others claim its origin is in northwestern South America. Fossil records from New Zealand indicate that small, coconut-like plants grew there as long as 15 million years ago. Even older fossils have been uncovered in Kerala (Kerala means “land of coconut palms”), Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra (India) and the oldest known so far in Khulna, Bangladesh.
Mention is made of coconuts in the 2nd-1st centuries BC in the Mahawamsa of Sri Lanka. The later Culawamasa states that King Aggabodhi I (575-608) planted a coconut garden of 3 yojanas length, possibly the earliest recorded coconut plantation. It is also common in Trinidad and Tobago.