Monday, March 16, 2009

Cocos nucifera

It was particularly thrilling, while in Puerto Rico, to see coconut palms sprouting out of the sand.

These guys were popping up all over the beaches, and demonstrate well why the coconut palm has been successfully migrating to virtually any beach located between 26ºN and 26ºS.

The origin of Cocos nucifera is up for debate. This plant, whose well-known fruit is unusually buoyant and salt-tolerant, was first recorded in the 1st or 2nd century BC by indigenous Sri Lankans. Fossil records indicate plants that are similar to coconuts existed in New Zealand and Kerala (southwest India).

Books can (and are) written about the coconut. I'll keep this post short, however. Cocos is derivative from the Portuguese word for 'mask' and likely refers to the face-like appearance of the three holes on the coconut shell.

Coconuts are excellent uses for sound design, though they fail to trick even the more medieval mind and only end up triggering a debate about how coconuts migrate:

Finally, I'll end with some good news: Based on my fairly limited online research, it seems there is scant evidence of people being fatally hit on head by a falling coconut, despite the oft-used comparison that this as equally likely to a fatal shark attack. If you're the (extremely) cautious type, better to take your chances on the beach.


PS -- As I mentioned once before in regards to lotus, nucifera means nut-bearing, which is certainly an apt species name for this plant.


Anonymous said...

Nut Bearing! Yes, I think the author may have been hit on the head with a Malaysian Coconut some years ago.

sah said...

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.