A coconut palm tree, known to biologists as Cocos nucifera, is a palm tree which produces coconuts. It is probably the most well known of the palms, and it is a very important tropical plant. In fact, coconuts are so closely associated with palms in the minds of many people that seeing a palm tree without coconuts can be a jarring and disappointing sight.
This palm produces very lacy, feathery leaves, and it is native to the tropics. It requires warmth, humidity, and a stable temperature to thrive, and it can attain heights of up to 60 feet (18 meters). Coconut palms produce an assortment of valuable products which can be used in everything from construction to hair care, making them very versatile and highly prized in regions where they can be grown.
Contrary to its name, a coconut is not really a nut. It is actually a type of fruit known as a drupe. Coconuts can be used in numerous culinary applications. The flesh of the coconut can be eaten or processed to make coconut milk, and the fruits also produce a liquid known as coconut water which is edible. A delicacy known as hearts of palm is made with the inner shoots of a coconut palm tree, unfortunately killing the tree in the process. The coconut palm tree can also be used as a source of coconut oil, which can be used in cooking, skin care, hair care, and lubrication.
The fibrous outer husk of the fruit can be used to make a fiber which is known as coir. Coir is used in ropemaking, construction, and the assembly of rugs and sacks. The wood of the palm tree is also useful in construction and crafts, as are the leaves. In some regions, charcoal is produced from coconut shells, and palm trees can also be used to make dye, buttons, jewelry, and a wide variety of other products.
People who live in tropical climates can grow coconut palms in their gardens. Many nurseries in the tropics carry an array of palms for people to use in landscaping, including coconut palm trees. However, caution should be taken when planting a coconut palm tree, as the falling fruits can pose a significant hazard. Planting away from paths and structures is highly recommended, and people should be encouraged to avoid lingering under coconut trees when the fruits are fully ripened, as a falling coconut can cause severe head trauma.