The Fruit of
“Fruit”, I hear you say? Yes, that’s right. Despite the name
(and common opinion) coconuts are actually the fruit of
the coco palm.
Coconuts come from one of the world’s most versatile trees, with
virtually all parts being useful. The leaves are used for
making fans, baskets and thatch. The husk fibre is great
for mats, stuffing and rope. Coconut timber is highly
regarded for its fine grain and high-polish finish. The
nutshells make great containers, and even the root
can be chewed as a narcotic
And of course you can eat (and drink) from it, too.
The edible parts of the coconut are well known for their
great taste and nutritious benefits. The flesh from a
coconut can be eaten either ripe or unripe, raw or
cooked, and is a staple food in the tropics.
Coconut milk is commonly imbibed the world over, but is
not the only part of the coconut that may be drunk. The
sweet liquid from the flower buds can be made into an
alcoholic beverage called arrack, and can also be boiled
down to produce palm sugar.
Then there is the oil. Coconut oil is typically
extracted from the dried flesh of harvested coconuts.
The traditional method of extracting the oil is pounding
the copra (dried coconut flesh) with a mortar and
pestle. (Coconut oil may have been the first vegetable
oil in history to be utilized by man.)
A greater yield can now be achieved through mechanical
extraction, but the method remains essentially the same.
Coconut trees are prolific manufacturers. A healthy tree
can commonly yield 200 nuts per year. This quantity of
nuts can produce 18 kg of oil, along with 34 kg of
coconut milk and 14 kg of flour. Residue from the
extraction process is highly regarded as a meal for
The world’s largest producer of coconuts is the
Philippines, with an estimated 324 million coconut trees
under cultivation. The Philippines represent 59% of the
world’s coconut exports, with more than 1 in 4 of all
Philippinos being in some way dependent on the coconut
industry for their livelihoods.
Thus the long-term future of coconut products and their
availability seems bright. Good news indeed for the
growing numbers of people re-discovering coconuts as the
healthier alternative to vegetable-based unsaturated