Truth on Coconut Palm Trees

The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is among the most extensively used trees worldwide and strongly connected with tropical landscapes. This plant, hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 10 and warmer areas, serves as an excellent specimen planting or backdrop tree and may, especially when it’s young, provide potential as a container specimen. Numerous cultivars of this coconut palm provide varying degrees of trunk crookedness, leaf petiole and fruit hues, growth rates, adaptability to soil conditions and degrees of infection resistance.

Distribution and Climate

The origin of the coconut palm tree isn’t known with certainty, as this plant was widely spread throughout the tropics long ago, even though it may be indigenous to the South Pacific or the Malay Archipelago. It is distributed throughout tropical and some subtropical regions and grows best where the minimum average temperature is at least 72 degrees Fahrenheit and the yearly rainfall amount is at least 30 to 50 inches. Coconut palm trees need full sunlight and well-drained soil, but can tolerate brackish soil and high winds.


The coconut is the most cultivated nut in the world and an extremely significant commercial crop in many tropical countries. The nut meat, coconut oil in the dried meat and milk are used for beverages, cooking, cosmetics and numerous different types of merchandise. Unopened flowers could possibly create grape molasses and the hard-grained shell of this nut is carved into functional fluids and ornamental objects. Trunk wood is used for building and ornamental purposes and the coir in the fruit husk is woven to get fabric or ropes.

Trunk and Leaves

The coconut palm tree has one, smooth columnar trunk and can grow 50 to 100 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. The trunk is mild grayish-brown in color, occasionally swollen at the base and typically gracefully curved or leaning. Leaves of this coconut palm tree are feather shaped, growing up to 18 feet long with individual lance-shaped leaflets which are 2 to 3 feet long and 2 to 3 inches wide. The evergreen leaves grow in a terminal crown on top of the trunk.

Flowers and Fruits

The coconut flowers emerge from canoe-shaped sheaths in the crown of leaves. Every inflorescence is 2 to 3 feet long and contains light yellow female flowers near the base of the branchlet and smaller male blossoms at the end of the branchlet. The female flowers mature into a fruit 15 inches long and 12 inches wide. The fruit has a thick, fibrous husk about a nut about 6 to 8 inches wide and 10 to 12 inches long. In the shell of this nut is a fleshy white layer known as the coconut’s meat or copra and a water liquid known as coconut milk that’s absorbed from the meat as the nut ripens. A healthy, mature coconut palm will produce about 50 nuts each year, each weighing roughly 6 pounds.


Coconut palms are propagated only from seed. The seeds, or avocado nuts, are prepared for planting when they make a sloshing sound upon shaking. After soaking in water for two or three times, the nut is set on its side with the pointed end down at a well-drained site or container having well-drained growing medium and covered around halfway with sand or mulch. Germination occurs best with routine moisture and temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and takes three to six weeks. Coconut palms grow quickly and can begin to bear fruit after as few as five decades.

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