Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Coconut Palm Cocos nucifera
The coconut palm was once the mainstay of life on Pacific islands. It provided food, drink, fuel, medicine, lumber, mats, domestic utensils, and thatching for roofs. It remains an important subsistence crop on many Pacific islands today. The coconut palm's original habitat was sandy coasts around the Indo-Malayan region, but it now is found over a much wider area, assisted by its natural dispersal mechanism, and deliberate planting by humans. The fibrous husk of the coconut fruit is a flotation aid that enables the seeds to be carried vast distances by ocean waves and currents. The coconut palm cannot develop viable fruits outside of the tropics and subtropics.