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Cocos nucifera has a smooth single gray trunk that is ringed with old leaf scars. Mature palms become smooth with age. Trunk is a little swollen at the base and is usually slightly curved. It is topped with a crown of 25 – 30 pinnate, or feather-shaped, leaves that can grow up to 18 feet long and 6 feet wide. Leaves are large, about 18ft long and 6ft wide, with 200 leaflets 2ft long. Leaf life span of the leaf may be 2.5 – 3 years, and mature, healthy palms form a new one and drop the oldest one each month. When about 4-6 years of age, during spring the Coconut Palm starts producing sweet-scented yellow flowers. Flowers grow in clusters and are held by slightly branched stalks. Male and female flowers grow on the same inflorescence. They are generally protandrous, male flowers release pollen before females become receptive. Flowers are followed by fruits called “coconuts”. Coconut is one of the most recognizable and most useful fruits in the world. They range in color from green, to yellow, or bronze-gold, to brown depending on maturity and variety. Fruits are oval, 3-angled, 12 inches long and 10 inches wide, with single seed inside. There is a nut inside of the fruit, filled with a layer of white coconut “meat” and sweet watery milk. The Coconut Palm seeds are one of the largest of any plant. After maturing it takes a full year for the coconut to ripen.
Beach on Cooper Island, BVI.