Botanical Name: Lodoicea maldivica
Species: L. maldivica
*Borassus sonneratii Giseke
*Cocos maldivica J.F.Gmel.
*Cocos maritima Comm. ex H.Wendl.
*Lodoicea callypige Comm. ex J.St.Hil.
*Lodoicea sechellarum Labill.
*Lodoicea sonneratii (Giseke) Baill.
Common Names: Double Coconut, Sea coconut, Coco de mer, or Lodoicea
Habitat: Lodoicea maldivica, is endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in the Seychelles. It formerly also was found on the small islets of St Pierre, Chauve-Souris and Ile Ronde (Round Island), all located near Praslin, but had become extinct there for a time until recently reintroduced. The name of the genus, Lodoicea, may be derived from Lodoicus, the Latinised form of Louis, in honour of King Louis XV of France. Other sources say that Lodoicea is from Laodice, the daughter of Priam and Hecuba.It inhabits in rainforests where there are deep, well-drained soils and open exposed slopes; although growth is reduced on such eroded soils.
The tree generally grows to 25–34 m tall. The tallest on record, measured on the ground after felling, was 186 feet (56.7 meters) in total height. The leaves are fan-shaped, 7–10 m long and 4.5 m wide with a 4 m petiole in mature plants. However juveniles produce much longer petioles; up to 29′ 6″ (9 meters) or even 33 feet (10 meters). It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The male flowers are arranged in a catkin-like inflorescence up to 1 m long which continues to produce pollen over a ten-year period; one of the longest living inflorescences known. The mature fruit is 40–50 cm in diameter and weighs 15–30 kg, and contains the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The fruit, which requires 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate, is sometimes also referred to as the sea coconut, love nut, double coconut, coco fesse, or Seychelles nut.
Leaves:….CLICK & SEE
The crown is a rather dense head of foliage with leaves that are stiff, palmate up to 10 m in diameter and petioles of two to four metres in length. The leaf is plicate at the base, cut one third or more into segments 4–10 cm broad with bifid end which are often drooping. A triangular cleft develops at the petiole base. The palm leaves form a huge funnel that intercepts particulate material, especially pollen, which is flushed to the base of the trunk when it rains. In this way, Lodoicea improves its nutrient supply and that of its dispersal-limited offspring.
Flowers:…CLICK & SEE
The clusters of staminate flowers are arranged spirally and are flanked by very tough leathery bracts. Each has a small bracteole, three sepals forming a cylindrical tube, and a three-lobed corolla. There are 17 to 22 stamens. The pistillate flowers are solitary and borne at the angles of the rachis and are partially sunken in it in the form of a cup. They are ovoid with three petals as well as three sepals. It has been suggested that they may be pollinated by animals such as the endemic lizards which inhabit the forest where they occur. Pollination by wind and rain are also thought to be important. Only when Lodoicea begins to produce flowers, which can vary from 11 years to 45 or more, is it possible to visually determine the sex of the plant. The nectar and pollen are also food for several endemic animals e.g. bright green geckos (Phelsuma sp.), white slugs (Vaginula seychellensis) and insects
Inflorescence:…CLICK & SEE
Inflorescences are interfoliar, lacking a covering spathe and shorter than the leaves. The staminate inflorescence is catkin-like, one to two metres long and generally terminal and solitary, sometimes two or three catkins may be present. The pistillate inflorescences are also one to two metres long unbranched and the flowers are borne on a zig-zagging rachilla.
Fruits:…CLICK & SEE
The fruit is bilobed, flattened, 40 to 50 cm long ovoid and pointed, and contains usually one but occasionally two to four seeds. The epicarp is smooth and the mesocarp is fibrous. The endosperm is thick, relatively hard, hollow and homogenous. The embryo sits in the sinus between the two lobes. During germination a tubular cotyledonary petiole develops that connects the young plant to the seed. The length of the tube is reported to reach about four metres. In the Vallee de Mai the tube may be up to 10 m long.
Lodoicea was once believed to be a sea-bean or drift seed, a seed evolved to be dispersed by the sea. However, it is now known that the viable nut is too dense to float, and only rotted out nuts can be found on the sea surface, thus explaining why the trees are limited in range to just two islands.
Edible Uses :
The real purpose of the fruit, the edible part is the endosperm of the fruit that is succulent and a delight to the taste buds. In case of the immature seeds they tend to contain a jelly like substance that melts in the mouth with a sweet taste. This is treated as a delicacy and is enjoyed by the locals.
Back in old times this plant was used for its medicinal properties that helped in wading off many life threatening diseases.
The fruit is used in Siddha medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and also in traditional Chinese medicine. In food, it is typically found as flavor enhancers for soups in southern Chinese cuisine, namely cuisine around the Canton country.
The species is grown as an ornamental tree in many areas in the tropics, and subsidiary populations have been established on Mahé and Silhouette Islands in the Seychelles to help conserve the species. The long leaves were big enough to be used in making huts and thatches for roofs. The shells of the fruit served as utensils and storage containers to store water and other essentials in them. The dried remains of the tree served purposefully as a stuffing for pillows. Owing to the magnificence the shell of the fruit holds it is often treated and traded as a souvenir or also adorns the walls of many as a decorative item. The endocarps of the larger fruits are utilized as bowls, plates and water drinking tumblers. The leaves are also used in making of fancy hats and baskets that are eco-friendly in nature.
The seeds of Lodoicea have been highly prized over the centuries; their rarity caused great interest and high prices in royal courts, and the tough outer seed coat has been used to make bowls such as for Sufi/Dervish beggar-alms kashkul bowls and other instrument.
From rare to scarce :
The existence of this plant is mainly threatened by man induced factors such as harvesting, poaching of endemic animals that enable the dispersal of seed and forest fire induced by humans. With the rapid rate of development in infrastructure and global development at large the existence of slow growing fast diminishing trees is becoming a threat. One must pay heed to the alarming calls of the nature before these beautiful wonders of nature are wiped off from the face of the earth.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.