Coconut – Cocos nucifera

Coconut or Monkey faced fruit
Coconut or Monkey faced fruit

…I wish I were a coconut,
People shout that is absurd,
I wish I were a coconut,
And that’s my final word.

By Jacob T Blow

 (to read the rest of the poem)

The actual origin of this palm is in question, some say the Coconut Palm is from the Ganges Delta region while others insist it is from northwestern South America. Regardless this is one of the most useful plants to man of all time, with every part being useful in some way! The Indonesians says “There is a different use for coconuts for every day of the year.” In Sanskrit the Coconut is called kalpa vriksha, which means “tree which gives all that is necessary for living.”

 

The Coconut in herbal medicine can be employed by using the pressed juice of the root for dysentery (bloody diarrhea). In the Philippines the fruits are processed into oil or milk and used for its refrigerant, aperient, diuretic, anthelmintic, and purgative properties. The roots are used for coughs due to its astringency.

 

In the Solomon Islands the water from a young nut is fed to infants with diarrhea, and in emergencies, used intravenously as a saline drip substitute. The young leaves are chewed to a paste and applied to cuts to act as a styptic (stop bleeding). During WWII the coconut water was given intravenously as a substitute for blood plasma when none was available, saving many a life!

 

As a food the water is sterile till the drupe is cracked, and therefore provides a clean source of water when all else is contaminated by natural disaster. The nut meat is often used, in grated form to make cookies, cakes, candies, even a form of egg nog popular in Puerto Rico. The coco leaves are used in the Philippines to wrap rice for cooking and storage.

 

Additional uses of the coconut and its parts are…..The charred husk is used as a black dye, and the coconut oil is used much like a mordant, deepening and setting colors. The male flowers were heated in coconut oil and used to perfume fabric, while the bark is used to scent body oil. Coconut oil with other botanicals added (Tahitian gardenia and/or ylang ylang) is used for massage and for hair treatments. The leaves are used in making mats, thatched roofs, and baskets. The uses of the various parts seem endless!

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