The coconut tree is a type of palm tree. It grows best in hot, humid environments, especially in sandy soil. Most coconut trees grow in the tropics and subtropics in wetter environments.
The first thought that passes through most of our minds when asked to picture coconut trees would be an exotic summer vacation. But there is so more to this humble tree than its connotations to a tropical paradise. It is the most wholesome plant as every aspect of its anatomy is of use to us. Thus, no part of a coconut tree goes to waste, and therefore it is the ideal candidate to be the poster boy for sustainable living. Here are 6 reasons for it :
The sap derived from incising the flower clusters of the coconut is drunk. It is known as neera, toddy, tuba, tuak or karewe. When left to ferment it becomes coconut palm wine. Palm wine is distilled to produce arrack. The sap can be reduced by boiling to create a sweet syrup called coconut nectar syrup. It can be reduced further to granulated coconut sugar or block coconut sugar also. Coconut flowers have many medicinal uses. They are an ingredient in many traditional remedies, especially medicines for new mothers.
Coconut meat or fruit is a delicacy that can be eaten as is if it is from a tender coconut or can be used in its grated or dried form to flavor food. Additionally, its milk can be extracted and used to make delicious curries and desserts. Wait, there’s more! Dried coconut flesh is also used to make virgin coconut oils which, in addition to serving as a cooking oil, does wonders for your hair.
Coconut water is more than just a refreshing drink or a mixer for your cocktails. It is loaded with electrolytes and contains essential nutrients thereby making it the ideal drink in summers to keep dehydration at bay. Moreover, they can be tapped to make the sweet alcoholic drink called toddy which is often cited as ‘the poor man’s wine’. Now that is refreshing!
The coconut shell or the endocarp is used to make ladles and bowls in many tropical regions. It also makes for the perfect surface to put your art skills to practice. And if that wasn’t enough, the coconut fibers/coir on its shell is the raw material used to make mats, rope, brushes, mattresses, and packaging to name a few. It can also function as a natural loofah! Finally, the outer layer or exocarp is an excellent alternative for charcoal or firewood.
Coconut leaves were traditionally used as a roofing material and are still used to make destination themed cabins and huts. They are currently used to make brooms, sticks and can even be fashioned into toothpicks and tongue cleaners.
Coconut lumber has a myriad of structural uses ranging from pillars to furniture. It is also adopted by interior designers. Burned coconut wood is also the precursor to numerous chemicals such as absorbent and paint pigments.
So there you go, this modest palm tree is one of a kind as it serves humanity in more ways than one. The Coconut Tree exudes the very principles of sustainable living and is, therefore, the fitting symbol to represent it.