Sea Coconut

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Sea Coconut

 

(Lodoicea maldivica), also sea coco, the sole species of the genus Lodoicea of the family Palmae. The trunk reaches a height of 30 m and measures 30 cm in diameter; the crown bears as many as 30 large fronds. The leaf stalk is 2.5–6 m long, and the leaf blade is 3–5 m long and 2–2.5 m wide. The sea coconut is a dioecious plant; it flowers at the age of 20 to 40 years. The spicate inflorescences are 1–1.8 m long and bear flowers with six-parted perianths. The inflorescences with antheral flowers function for eight to ten years; there are about 30 stamens concresced into a single column in each flower. The female inflorescences have five to 13 large flowers (up to 7 cm in diameter) with a single pistil. The fruit ripens in the sixth to tenth year and weighs up to 9–16 kg (sometimes up to 25 kg); under its heavy external jacket there is a two-lobed stone that contains in its hard casing the largest seed in the plant world. The endosperm of immature seeds is liquid but hardens in time. The seed sprouts in one to 1#x00BD; years, and the young plant continues to obtain nutrient matter from the endosperm for four to five years.

The sea coconut grows on the Seychelles, where it was discovered by Europeans in 1742. It is a protected plant. The fruits, which are often carried by ocean currents, have been known in Europe since the Middle Ages. Their origin was given fantastic explanations, and magical powers were ascribed to them. Inhabitants of the Seychelles use the unripe fruits as food. They manufacture dishes from the hard casings, and the leaves are used as roofing material.

S. S. MORSHCHIKHINA

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Found on just two islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the Coco de Mer palm has seeds or nuts that can reach half a metre in diameter and weigh as much as 25kg.
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