Coconut Palm - Knowledgebase Question

Titusville, Fl
Avatar for pmarion
Question by pmarion
January 25, 2011
I bought a Coconut Palm today at Home Depot. The tag on the plant says

Answer from NGA
January 25, 2011
I don't blame you for being disappointed! I would be too. Home Depot is working hard to include all plants in the database for easy access but until everything is posted, this forum is your best source of information.

Coconut palms are large, single-trunked palms with a smooth, columnar trunk that has a light grayish-brown color; the trunk is topped with a terminal crown of leaves. Tall varieties may attain a height of 80 - 100 feet while dwarf varieties are shorter in stature. The trunk is slender and often swollen at the base. The trunk is typically curved or leaning, but is erect in some cultivars.

The leaves are feather-shaped, up to 18 feet long and 4 feet wide. The leaf stalks are 3 - 5 feet in length and spineless.

Male and female flowers are borne on the same inflorescence. The inflorescences emerge from canoe-shaped sheaths among the leaves and may be 2 - 3 feet long and have 10 - 50 branchlets. Male flowers are small, light yellow, and are found at the ends of the branchlets. Female flowers are larger than male flowers, light yellow in color, and are found towards the base of the branchlets. Coconut palms begin to flower at about 4 - 6 years of age.

Roughly ovoid, the fruit is up to 15 inches long and 12 inches wide, composed of a thick, fibrous husk surrounding a somewhat spherical nut with a hard, brittle hairy shell. The nut is 6 - 8 inches in diameter and 10 - 12 inches long. Three sunken holes of softer tissue -- called "eyes" -- are at one end of the nut.

Inside the shell is a thin, white, fleshy layer, about one inch thick at maturity. This layer is known as the "meat" or copra. The interior of the nut is hollow, but partially filled with a watery liquid called "coconut milk". The meat is soft and jelly-like when immature, but it becomes firm at maturity. Coconut milk is abundant in unripe fruits, but the coconut milk is gradually absorbed as ripening proceeds. The fruits are green at first, turning brownish as they mature. Yellow-fruit varieties change from yellow to brown as they mature. Your palm won't be mature enough to flower and fruit until it is about 15 years of age.

Container-grown palms should be planted such that the bottom of the stem and top of the root system are about 1 inch below the surface of the soil. Plant yours in a sunny site and water it regularly during the year. Hope this information is helpful.

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