Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Clyde to Constable, John

Coconut palm

flesh nuts tree copra

Coconut palm (Cocos nuerferd), tropical tree. Its origin is obscure because coconuts can survive prolonged immersion in the sea, and they have been spread around the world by ocean currents. The height of the coconut palm ranges from 60 to 100 ft (18 to 30 m). The trunk, which often tilts over, bears a cluster of long fronds at the top. A single palm can produce over 400 nuts in the course of a year. The husk surrounding the “nut” (seed) is used for mats and ropes. The nut is at first filled with a jelly. This liquefies when the nut is about 7 months old to become “coconut milk.” Over the next 2 to 3 months the liquid solidifies to a white flesh used to make desiccated coconut. Finally, when a year old, the fruit falls of its own accord. The nuts are then cut out and split in two, and the flesh is allowed to dry. Then called copra, it yields an oil used in margarine, synthetic rubber, soap, and other items. Coconut palm fronds are used for thatching, and the copra, without its oil, is used as cattle feed. The tree is also a source of wood.

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