Forest & Kim Starr
Plant Common Name
This is perhaps the most visually recognizable, romantic palm in the world. Coconut palm is commonly associated with the beaches of the South Pacific but is found in coastal tropical areas worldwide. It is a true palm that produces a crown of large, feathery palm leaves at the top of its long, bare trunk.
The large, pinnate leaves of coconut palm are deep green, sometimes with yellow petioles. Mature specimens produce branching inflorescences with numerous tassels of yellow male and female flowers. The bulbous female blooms, at the base of the tassels, produce coconuts after pollination by bees. Coconut husks can be green, yellow, orange, or red. The enormous seeds inside are what most typically refer to as coconuts. The woody seeds are filled with flavorful coconut milk and lined with tasty white meat.
The sun loving coconut palm is a coastal species that thrives in a variety of well-drained soils, even brackish ponds. Well established trees can tolerate substantial drought. Where hardy, it is often used as a street tree, but this has its caveats. The falling coconut fruits can easily harm people and damage property. Compact cultivars such as 'Dwarf Golden Malay' are a better choice for many situations. Clusters of coconut palms will create an oasis of shade in the tropical heat. This palm is highly susceptible to a systemic disease called "lethal yellowing." Some cultivars are said to be resistant but all eventually succumb to this debilitating pathogen.
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Drought, Salt, Soil Compaction
Drought Tolerant, Average Water
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Street Trees, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns