About this site - and an apology

Apology - when Gordon Wrigley asked me to write the third edition of Coconuts for Longman in 1986, Reg Child, and later his wife Frances, very generously lent me the notes and reference material of his first two editions and the Librarians at Reading University and the Radcliffe Science Library kindly gave me access to their collections of Child memorabilia.

It was on the strength of this planned rewriting that Dick Pieris spontaneously gave me virtually all of the coconut related documents that he had accumulated and, in particular, carbon copies of 4,000 bibliographic references to coconut dating back to 600AD. The Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux had declined to publish these in 1978 (and the two volumes may have been returned to Sri Lanka in 2004, on the 75th anniversary of the Coconut Research Scheme).

It soon became clear to me that I do not possess the temperament required to write a textbook. My respect is great for my contemporaries like Jan Ohler, Dave Romney, Gabrielle de Taffin, "PK" Thampan and Mike Foale who have all written or edited entire coconut books.

Other people also willingly gave me unrestricted access to their own collected references, most notably Bernard Zelazny, Peter Maddison, Dennis Johnson and Reginald Griffith; and many others gave me encouragement. Thanks are also due to Adigilson Silva, who drew my attention to the comprehensive, on-line database maintained by EMBRAPA.

So, for the benefit of any future coconut text book writers, and for coconut researchers generally, and for all internet surfers, I compiled the Coconut Time Line by listing the reprints collected over the years, along with those mentioned above, posted the result to a freely accessible internet web site (courtesy of Florian Auer) and regulary added updates.

The introductory pages (modern, agricultural, mercantile, nautical and ancient) annotated "key" events (and I make no excuse that they reflect my own particular interests). The subsidiary lists for individual years contain, if possible, every reference for any particular year and, of course, links to current internet sites on coconut. There is even a “lost & found” page for incomplete citations.

Unlike a textbook, which is unavoidably out-of-date as soon as it is published, the Coconut Time Line has been regularly up-dated on-line. Moreover, correcting discrepancies between citations (particularly to Chiovenda's “La culla del cocco) helped to resolve “one of the intriguing problems of botany” identified by Corner as “Whence came this most widely cultivated and now pan-tropical palm?" The ability to float in sea water for at least 50 days, or possibly over 200 days and still gerninate was the mechanism whereby coconuts incould float for long distance dispersal, yet it is nowhere wild!"

Hugh Harries

Coconut Time Line

Coconut Compendium
Coconut Knowledge Network