Origin

Comparatively little is known around the origin and also early circulation of the coconut palm, probably since it was so widely spread throughout the tropical locations of the human being so many years ago. However, the coconut palm is believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago or the southern Pacific.

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Distribution

The coconut is widespread throughout the tropics, frequently being uncovered along sandy shorelines. This tree has been spread greatly by man, but also by natural means. The fruit deserve to float for lengthy distances and still germinate to kind new trees after gift washed ashore.

Commercial plantings are confined come the tropical lowlands, however the tree will likewise fruit in a few warmer subtropical areas. In Florida the coconut palm is successfully grown indigenous Stuart top top the east coast and also Punta Gorda on the west coast, southern to crucial West.


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figure 1. A Maypan coconut palm, cultivation in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in 2008.

Importance

The coconut is the most broadly grown and also used nut in the world and also the most essential palm. It is an important commercial chop in countless tropical countries, contributing substantially to their economies. Copra is the chef product the the coconut. Copra is the resource of coconut oil, i beg your pardon is provided for making soap, shampoo, cosmetics, cooking oils, and also margarine. Lot of the fruit is consumed in your ar for food.

The coconut palm, more than any kind of other plant, provides a tropical effect to the Florida landscape. If this palm is highly valued as an ornamental, that is also grown top top a restricted commercial communication in Florida for cacao frio, a refresh drink make from the water inside environment-friendly coconuts.

Description

Tree. This large, single-trunked palm has a smooth, columnar trunk with a light grayish-brown color; the stems is topped v a terminal crown that leaves. Tall varieties may achieve a elevation of 80–100 feet (24–31 m), while dwarf varieties are much shorter in stature. The stems is slender and also often swollen in ~ the base. The trunk is frequently curved or leaning, yet is erect in part cultivars.

Leaves. The pinnate leaves space feather-shaped, as much as 18 feet (5.5 m) long and also 4 feet (1.2 m) wide. The leaf stalks are 3–5 feet (0.9–1.5 m) in length and spineless.

Flowers. Male and female flowers are borne on the exact same inflorescence. The inflorescences arise from canoe-shaped sheaths among the leaves and may it is in 2–3 feet (0.6–0.9 m) long and have 10–50 branchlets. Masculine flowers room small, light yellow, and are discovered at the end of the branchlets. Female flower are larger than male flowers, irradiate yellow in color, and also are uncovered towards the base of the branchlets. Coconut palms begin to flower at about 4–6 year of age.

Fruit. Roughly ovoid, as much as 15 inches (38 cm) long and 12 inch (30 cm) wide, created of a thick, fibrous husk neighboring a somewhat spherical nut through a hard, brittle, hairy shell. The nut is 6–8 inch (15–20 cm) in diameter and also 10–12 customs (25–30 cm) long. Three sunken feet of softer tissue—called \"eyes\"—are at one end of the nut.

Inside the covering is a thin, white, fleshy layer, around one customs thick at maturity. This layer is well-known as the \"meat\" or copra. The inner of the seed is hollow, however partially filled with a watery liquid dubbed \"coconut milk\". The meat is soft and jelly-like when immature, yet it becomes firm at maturity. Coconut milk is numerous in unripe fruits, but the coconut milk is gradually took in as ripening proceeds. The fruit are eco-friendly at first, transforming brownish together they mature. Yellow-fruit varieties readjust from yellow come brown together they mature.

Production

The coconut palm starts fruiting 6–10 years after the particle germinates and also reaches full production in ~ 15–20 year of age. The tree proceeds to fruit until it is around 80 years old, through an yearly production that 50–200 fruit per tree, depending on cultivar and also climate. The fruits require about a year to develop and also are generally developed regularly throughout the year.

Cultivars

Several cultivars of coconut palms space grown in Florida (Table 1). These cultivars different in your petiole and fruit color, straightness (or crookedness) of the trunk, leaflet and also leaf width, development rates, presence or absence of a swollen trunk base or bole, adaptability to Florida\"s floor conditions, and resistance come lethal yellowing condition (LY).

The \"Jamaican Tall\" (also dubbed \"Atlantic Tall\") is a rapid-growing coconut palm variety with a swollen tribe base and crooked trunk. This variety is well adapted to Florida. The \"Malayan Dwarf\" cultivar has three shade forms the differ in the color of the immature fruits and also petioles (green, yellow, or gold). This cultivar is smaller and also slower-growing than the \"Jamaican Tall\". Additionally, the \"Malayan Dwarf\" has a narrow, straight, non-swollen trunk. The \"Panama Tall\" (also called \"Pacific Tall\") is a large, robust palm v a large-diameter trunk the is crooked and swollen. The \"Panama Tall\" has a rapid expansion rate and also either green or bronze-colored fruits and petioles. The \"Maypan\" is a hybrid between the \"Malayan Dwarf\" and also the \"Panama Tall\" and also resembles the \"Jamaican Tall\" in appearance.

The \"Malayan Dwarf\" cultivar and the hybrid \"Maypan\" have actually been commonly planted in Florida because of their reported resistance to LY, a fatal disease of coconut palms in Florida and in components of the Caribbean region. (For much more on this disease, check out lifwynnfoundation.org publication PP222, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/pp146.) return these varieties were originally believed to be very resistant to LY, irreversible trials in Florida have revealed the \"Malayan Dwarf\" and also \"Maypan\" are just slightly much less susceptible come LY than the \"Jamaican Talls\" these ranges were intended to replace.

One cultivar the has displayed some potential because that resistance to LY is the \"Fiji Dwarf\" (Niu Leka), although more extensive testing is essential to substantiate the promising results of research studies done in Florida during the 1980s and also 1990s. The \"Fiji Dwarf\" is slow growing and also has really broad leaves and also leaflets. This range can have actually either bronze or green fruits and petioles and also has a really thick, crooked trunk. The \"Fiji Dwarf\" is well adjusted to Florida soils. Unfortunately, unless \"Fiji Dwarf\" trees room isolated (>100 ft or so) from various other coconut palm cultivars, to prevent pollination v non-\"Fiji Dwarf\" tree the result seeds develop a good percentage the tall, off-type palms the are well-known to be susceptible to LY.

Propagation

Coconut Palm propagation is completely from seed—the coconuts, which are prepared for planting if they produce an audible \"sloshing\" sound when shaken. The nuts are put on your sides and also buried v sand or mulch to around one-half the thickness that the nut. They might be planted in carefully spaced rows in fine drained seedbeds, or the nuts might be planted directly into huge pots. Germination is best under high temperature (90°F–100°F). Top top germination, the shoot and root emerge through the next or one end of the nut. Young palms, around 6 months old, can be transplanted directly into the ar or have the right to be grown in pots in the nursery because that a couple of more years.

Climate and Soils

The coconut palm is commonly found follow me tropical, sandy shorelines since it deserve to tolerate brackish soils and also salt spray. However, salt is not compelled for the growth of healthy and balanced coconut palms, which can be efficiently grown well inland. Coconut palms thrive well in a wide selection of soil types and in a vast pH range, from 5.0–8.0, noted the soils are well drained. Successful development requires a minimum average temperature that 72°F and also an annual rainfall that 30–50 customs or more. Coconut palms room not an ideal for areas that frequently experience freeze temperatures. Coconut palms require full sunlight and also are tolerant to wind and also to temporary flooding.

Planting and Spacing

Coconut palms might be planted at any time that the year, but the warm, merganser summer month are finest for planting these palms. They have the right to be properly transplanted at any period in their growth, noted they are correctly handled. Preplanting floor preparation counts upon soil kind and depth of the water table. In low-lying areas, beds numerous feet high and large should be built to stop waterlogging that the source zone throughout wet periods. In some areas a hardpan in the soil profile might need to be damaged up and mixed with topsoil before planting. Because that commercial plantings in the rocky calcareous soils the Miami-Dade County, absent plowing come a depth of 6–8 customs (15–20 cm) and trenching about 16–24 inch (41–60 cm) broad and 18–24 inch (45–60 cm) deep is recommended. For landscape planting, holes 2–3 ft in diameter and also 1–2 ft deep need to be prepared. Before digging in landscapes, contact your neighborhood utilities to protect against disrupting water, cable and/or electrical lines.

Container-grown palms must be planted such the the bottom the the stem and also top that the root device are around 1 inch listed below the surface of the soil. Field-grown palms have to be planted in ~ the very same level at which they were previously grown. The new tree need to be watered instantly after planting and frequently afterwards until the tree is well established. 3 to 4 inches, yet no more, that mulch used to the floor surface roughly the tree will assist retain floor moisture and restrict weed growth. Commercially, the trees space planted at spacings of 18–30 feet (5.5–9.1 m) apart. In house gardens, coconut palms have to be planted where they will certainly receive full sun and also not it is in crowded. At least 1 customs of water have to be offered weekly by rainfall or by irrigation, especially during the an initial year adhering to transplanting.

Environmental Stresses

Drought: Coconut palms are tolerant the dry soil conditions. However, for optimum fruit production and quality, consistent irrigation is recommended throughout dry periods.

Flooding: Coconut palms are tolerant the waterlogged or flooded soil problems for a couple of days. However, tree may decline and die as soon as exposed to lengthy flooding or waterlogged soils.

Cold temperatures: Coconut palms will certainly be injured and also may be killed by temperatures below 32°F (0°C) and may show chilling injury symptoms of leaflet necrosis at temperatures as high as 40°F (5°C). Lengthy exposure to non-freezing temperatures in the short to mid 30s°F can result in long-term trunk damage and also even fatality of the palm. An ext severe freezes have the right to also an outcome in fatality of the bud. Research has presented that the severity of cold injury is greatly decreased for these palms as soon as they have been appropriately fertilized. (For additional information about cold damages on palms, see lifwynnfoundation.org publication MG318, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/mg318.)

Wind: Coconut palms are fairly tolerant of public sites and generally endure hurricane-force winds. The most common damage indigenous hurricane winds is ns of leaves and toppling over. If uprooted palms space righted promptly and adequately watered, survive of these palms is usually quite good.

Salt: Coconut palms space tolerant of saline water and also soils, as well as salt spray.

Lightning: Lightning sometimes strikes high coconut palms. Symptom of lightning strikes include sudden please of the canopy and also bleeding exit holes in the bottom four feet of the trunk.

Nutritional Problems and also Fertilization

Coconut palms in the landscape space susceptible to number of nutritional deficiencies. Nitrogen (N) deficiency appears as a uniform yellowing that the oldest leaves but typically influence the whole canopy. Growth rate will be high solution reduced. (For more on N deficiency in palms, check out lifwynnfoundation.org publishing ENH1016, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep268.)

Potassium (K) deficiency is more than likely the most widespread and important deficiency the coconut palms throughout the world. Early symptoms occur an initial on the earliest leaves together translucent yellow-orange or necrotic spotting. Necrosis that the leaflet margins, complied with by leaflet pointer necrosis will additionally become apparent. Symptoms increase in severity in the direction of the pointer of the leaf. In severe situations the tribe will begin to taper in diameter (\"pencil-pointing\"), and brand-new leaves will arise chlorotic, short, and also frizzled in appearance. Fatality often follows if instant treatment is not provided. The most reliable treatment because that K deficiency is sulfur-coated potassium sulfate, broadcasted under the canopy at a price of 1.5 lbs/100 sq. Ft. Of canopy area 4 times every year. Addition of 1/3 as much magnesium (Mg) in ~ the exact same time will stop a Mg deficiency from complying with treatment because that K deficiency. (For more on K defiency in palms, check out lifwynnfoundation.org publication ENH1017, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep269.)

Magnesium deficiency shows up as broad, yellow bands along the outer edges the the earliest leaves in the canopy. The center of the affected leaves will continue to be distinctly eco-friendly with this deficiency. It is normally treated through magnesium sulfate, preferably in managed release type to minimize leaching losses. (For much more on magnesium defiency in palms, see lifwynnfoundation.org publication ENH1014, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep266.)

Manganese (Mn) deficiency sometimes occurs on coconut palms, particularly in the feather months complying with a cold winter. Symptoms occur on the newest leaves, which emerge greatly diminished in size. These pipeline will typically exhibit a singed appearance along the edges. Manganese deficiency can additionally be led to by fertilization or by floor amendment with composted sewer sludges. Back Mn deficiency led to by cool soil temperatures is commonly a momentary problem, Mn deficiency resulted in by composted sewer sludges can be deadly if manganese sulfate is not promptly and also regularly applied. For this reason, composted sewage sludges need to not be provided on any type of ornamental tree that room susceptible come Mn deficiency. (For an ext on Mn defiency in palms, check out lifwynnfoundation.org publishing ENH1015, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep267.)

Boron (B) deficiency periodically occurs ~ above coconut palms, particularly during rainy weather, i m sorry leaches B with sandy soils. Extended periods of dried weather, as well as high floor pH, can likewise contribute to B deficiency. Symptoms include premature fruit drop and tip dieback on brand-new leaves. Sometimes a sequential sample of triangle will show up within a single new leaf together the palm alternately experiences B deficiency and also sufficiency throughout leaf development. Chronically boron-deficient palms regularly exhibit one or more incompletely opened up spear leaves. Boron deficiency can be treated with sodium borates (Solubor or borax) or boric acid. (For an ext on B defiency in palms, watch lifwynnfoundation.org publication ENH1012, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep264.)

To stop nutritional deficiencies from arising or to exactly mild deficiencies, continuous maintenance fertilization through a \"palm special\" fertilizer is recommended. These fertilizers should have actually an analysis of roughly 8N-2P2O5-12K2O-4Mg. The fertilizer should also have every one of their N, K, and also Mg in a controlled-release kind to avoid rapid leaching of these nutrients with the soil. Additionally, the fertilizers should contain around 1%–2% Fe and Mn, add to trace amounts of Zn, Cu, and also B. (For more on fertilization of palms in Florida, watch lifwynnfoundation.org publication ENH1009, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/ep261.)

The many effective means to apply these fertilizers is with a rotary spreader, spanning the whole soil area beneath the canopy the the palm (usually about 450–500 sq. Ft.) A price of 1.5 lb of palm special fertilizer per 100 sq. Ft. That canopy area every 3 months or 1 lb/100 sq. Ft. Every two months is ideal. In areas of low rainfall or in areas having soils with high cation exchange capacities, rates and application frequencies can be reduced.

Diseases

Lethal yellowing is the most important condition of coconut in Florida. Because LY was discovered in vital West an ext than 200 years ago, this an illness has crept northward, killing thousands of thousands the palm trees and also endangering virtually all of the tall coconut palms in Florida. Lethal yellowing is brought about by a tiny organism referred to as a phytoplasma, i m sorry is visible only with the aid of an electron microscope. At an early stage symptoms that LY space premature dropping the coconuts and blackening of flower stalks. The palm leaves then rotate yellow, start with the lower leaves and progressing to the crown, which dies and also eventually topples from the tree. The tree typically dies within 6 months ~ exhibiting the an initial symptoms the LY. (For more on this disease, watch lifwynnfoundation.org publishing PP222, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/pp146.)

Leaves of Malayan Dwarf coconuts do not display the usual yellowing symptoms, yet instead come to be wilted and also turn brown before the bud at some point dies. Injection of one antibiotic (oxytetracycline) may an outcome in remission of symptom within 4 weeks, but extr applications at four-month intervals are forced to keep the tree alive. Antibiotic injection is finest when provided on a preventive basis as soon as LY is active in the area. Roguing and also destruction the the infected palms and replacement of those palms through non-susceptible palm species is recommended.

Bud rot, resulted in by the fungus Phytophthora palmivora Butler, is uncovered in all locations where the coconut palm is grown. Early on symptoms—found top top young, occurring leaves—are brown, sunken spots, yellowing, and/or withering. The leaves rotate a light grayish brown, coming to be darker brown as they collapse in ~ the base. The epidemic spreads inward to the bud and outward to neighboring leaves, which turn yellow and also fall. Young nuts fail come develop, and also they fall. However, nuts that room well formed prior to infection continue to mature. A disagreeable smell emanates indigenous the disk bud. The older pipeline in the canopy of an infected tree generally remain healthy and balanced looking because that up to six months following death of the bud.

Both juvenile and adult trees have the right to be affected. Condition development most frequently occurs after periods of heavy rains and also is common in poorly drained sites. Once symptoms end up being visible, therapy is rarely successful. This disease can it is in prevented by periodic foliar sprays v fosetyl-Al (Aliette) or other assets containing phosphorous mountain or phosphites. Palms showing progressed symptoms of bud rot must be removed and also destroyed due to the fact that these plants might serve together a source of inoculum. (For an ext on bud rots, see lifwynnfoundation.org publishing PP220, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/pp144.)

Thielaviopsis tribe rot is a lethal fungal disease that reasons one-sided trunk rot and also ultimately, fallen of the stems or crown. This condition requires a wound in soft trunk tissue; thus, the condition is most commonly seen in newly transplanted coconut palms. Over there is no therapy for this disease, and it is finest prevented by staying clear of trunk wounds, specifically in the upper fifty percent of the trunk. (For an ext on this disease, view lifwynnfoundation.org publishing PP219, https://lifwynnfoundation.org/pp143.)

Pests

A variety of pests—including several kinds of scale, palm aphid, spider mites, mealybugs, palm weevils, and also caterpillars—are periodically found, yet usually perform not require manage measures. Coconut scale periodically may reason extensive damage, and also heavy infestations have to be managed by proper measures. Nuts reflecting constriction and/or a rough, corky surface are infested through coconut mites. Palm leaf skeletonizers mine the leaflets, leaving behind dead, translucent patches of leaf tissue and also the insect\"s brown frass pipe on the undersides the the leaves. Current regulate recommendations might be acquired from your neighborhood UF/lifwynnfoundation.org expansion agent.

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Harvesting

Harvesting the coconuts wake up throughout the year. The moment from fruit set to full maturity is about 12 months. The fruit should be harvested completely ripe for copra and dehydrated coconut. Drink nuts need to be choose earlier, at around seven months. The nuts may be harvested by professional climbers or may be cut from the ground, utilizing a knife attached come a lengthy pole. Use of climbing spikes is not recommended since the wounds led to by the spikes are permanent and may administer entry sites for diseases, such as Thielaviopsis trunk rot.

Uses

There space literally thousands of uses for coconuts and their products. The meat the immature coconuts have the right to be eaten with a spoon or be scooped out and also made into ice cream. Coconut milk, abundant in unripe nuts, is a refreshing and nutritious drink. The meat in tires coconuts is firm and can be eaten fresh or might be supplied for making shredded coconut. The many important economic product that the coconut is derived by drying the meat into copra, i beg your pardon is pressed to create coconut oil, primarily used in making soap and cosmetics. Coconut oil is likewise used for cooking and also making margarine. The rice bowl fiber is combed out and also sold together coir, a material for making rope and also coconut matting. Coir dust is great substitute because that peat moss in potting soils. The coconut palm trunks may be supplied for building timbers and also the leaves supplied for house thatching. The coconut palm has little commercial prestige in Florida yet is extremely valued as an ornamental. The coconut palm provides a tropical impact to the Florida landscape and also provides fruit for home use.