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COCOS nucifera

Image of Cocos nucifera

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

COCOS nucifera

Plant Common Name

Coconut Palm

General Description

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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H2

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    70'-100' / 21.3m - 30.5m

  • Width

    20'-60' / 6.1m - 18.3m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    World/Pandemic, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Green, Orange Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes