Modern period: From 1960 to now

Updated: 27 February 2017

The "Modern" period starts about the time that copra lost its place as the premier source of vegetable oil in international trade. Significant events include successful commercial hybrid seed production methods, identification of lethal disease pathogens and vectors, practical application of embryo culture techniques (but no breakthrough in clonal propagation by tissue culture), promotion of value added products (sports drinks, virgin oil, biofuel, etc.) and resolution of the long-standing question of the origin and evolution of Cocos nucifera L.

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Centenary – this year marks 100 years for the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute -- the Coconut Research Station at Kasaragod in Kerala was initially established in 1916 by the then Government of Madras.


Evidence for pre-human coconut dispersal - email from Prof Kirch (Berkley) on 17 Feb to CTL Moderator.

Not sure if I previously sent you the attached article, in which we report the presence of a small variety of coconut from coastal deposits on Mo'orea Island, dated back to ca. 4,000 BP, hence well before any human presence in this part of the Pacific.

Kahn JG, Nickelsen C, Stevenson J, Porch N, Dotte-Sarout E, Christensen CC, May L, Athens JS & Kirch PV (2014) Mid- to late Holocene landscape change and anthropogenic transformations on Mo‘orea, Society Islands: A multi-proxy approach. The Holocene 25 (2) 333-347.


Coconut origin and dispersal by migration within the coral atoll ecosytem - Disagreement over the origin and dispersal of the coconut palm began when early visitors to the New World misidentified local palms. Today, coconuts on coral atolls are villified as an invasive species. These issues are resolved by showing why the time seednuts spend floating in the lagoon is more important than the distance they may float in the open sea.

Harries & Clement, 2014 Coconut palm migration within the coral atoll ecosystem

Chaos on Chagos - ". . . Conservationists classify Cocos nucifera as an alien invasive species detrimental to biodiversity, while Chagossians value the coconut plantations as part of a cultural landscape that once provided employment, food, and artisanal products."
". . . The case of coconut palms in the Chagos Archipelago thus exemplifies the spatial challenge in classifying a species as native or alien according to its natural historical range on such tiny islands: there is general agreement that coconut palms were ‘naturally’ present on the fringes of many islands, yet they were also found further inland on some islands long before the widespread cultivation that resulted in their prevalence in the form of plantations."
". . . Reports of voyages to the Chagos Archipelago since its discovery indicate the presence of coconut palms (
Cocos nucifera) long before the islands were settled or commercially exploited by humans."
". . . The comparatively powerful conservationist community could reach out to the disadvantaged Chagossian community through dialogue to determine if the two groups can agree on mutually acceptable levels of coconut tree removal and coconut plantation management. One solution that could reconcile ecological restoration with the restoration of cultural landscapes would be to reduce or remove some of the former coconut plantations . . . while preserving and managing other former coconut plantations in recognition of the Chagossians’ historical presence and potential future on Chagos."

Jeffery, Ecological restoration in a cultural landscape: conservationist and Chagossian approaches to controlling the ‘coconut chaos' on the Chagos Archipelago .


No evidence for pre-Columbian coconuts It has been clearly established that the Portuguese introduced coconuts to the Cape Verde islands in 1499, and these supplied the Atlantic coasts and the Caribbean in the 1500s. By contrast, early 16th century reports of coconuts on the Pacific coast of Panama are controversial. Recent DNA analysis of modern coconut populations there shows them to be similar to Philippine varieties, agreeing with morphometric analysis. Hence, coconuts must have been brought by boat from the western Pacific, but no archaeological, ethnobotanical or linguistic evidence for pre-Columbian coconuts has been found. Thus, the most parsimonious explanation is that coconuts were introduced to Panama after Spanish conquest, as supported by DNA analysis and historical records of Spanish voyages. New collections along the Pacific coast, from Mexico to Colombia, are increasing the sampling for genetic analysis, and further work in the Philippines is suggested to test probable origins. Unless new archaeological discoveries prove otherwise, the strong hypothesis of Philippine origin should direct future research on the sources of American Pacific coast coconuts.

Clement et al, Coconuts in the Americas

The Manila-Acapulco galleon route - Findings from recent DNA analyses allow a detailed and testable suggestion of when, where and how modern coconut populations first reached Mexico and spread southwards to Peru.

Harries (2012) Key to Coconut Cultivation on the American Pacific Coast: The Manila-Acupulco Galleon Route (1565 - 1815). Palms 56 (2)

Harries, H.C. (1977) The Cape Verde region (1499 to 1549); the key to coconut culture in the Western Hemisphere? Turrialba 27, 227-231 (here).


Germination Rate is the Significant Characteristic Determining Coconut Palm Diversity - This review suggests four regions where diversity has been determined by germination rates. Although recent DNA studies support these distinctions further analysis of genetic markers related to fruit abscission and germination are recommended.

Harries (2012)


GM coconut – This is the first report of transient genetic transformation of Cocos nucifera and it is the first step toward a protocol that will be useful for the study of the role of genes of interest and for practical applications, such as the improvement of coconut micropropagation via somatic embryogenesis.

Andrade-Torres et al 2011

Lethal yellowing-like symptoms in Papua New Guinea - “Bogia Coconut Syndrome” is the first report of a lethal yellowing-like disease of coconut in Oceania. . . . The discovery of a LY phytoplasma has important implications for the coconut industry as the experience in Jamaica suggests that the disease is capable of destroying almost the entire population of susceptible palms.

Kelly, et al (2011)

Changing times - Sri Lanka plans to import coconuts from India and Malaysia to end shortages and bring down prices. But in the first quarter of the 19th century, according to Fergusin, between 1806 and 1813 Ceylon annually sent to India about three millions of coconuts, 28,000 measures of oil, and 3,500 cwt. of copra, besides 20,000 cwt. of coir – but exported little or no coconut oil to Europe.

Ferguson (1923) "All About The Coconut Palm".


Early, in-field, diagnosis for LY control - Lethal yellowing epidemics might be controlled if infected palms could be identified quickly and eliminated promptly – any delay allows vectors to feed. Attempts at control this disease in Jamaica by “cutting and burning” did not succeed in the 1950s, but have recently been re-adopted. Elimination is now quicker (with power tools and herbicides) but identification must still wait on visual recognition of symptoms (that take days to develop and may have other, non-lethal, causes). A quick, positive diagnosis could make a significant difference.

Tomlinson, J.A., Boonham,N & Dickinson, M (2010) Development and evaluation of a one-hour DNA extraction and loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay for rapid detection of phytoplasmas. Plant Pathology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3059.2009.02233.x US:


Ambiguous genetic relationships - The theory about the Indian and East African origin for the cultivars from the Atlantic and the Caribbean in America has been widely championed but little support has been provided with genetic marker data. Only recently, a  genetic study of the ‘Atlantic Tall’ (‘Jamaica Tall’) and ‘Panama Tall’ cultivars along with African and Caribbean coconuts reported dissimilar results depending on the marker system used. . . . Such discrepancies with the same genotypes make it difficult to conclude that any one scenario of coconut varietal relationships is accurate [and] a different model for the domestication and dispersal of coconut cultivars may need to be examined.

Mauro-Herrera et al (2009)


Yet another use as coconut oil takes to the air - Virgin Atlantic, a long-haul airline, flew a Boeing 747 jumbo jet from London to Amsterdam using renewable biofuel composed of babassu oil and coconut oil. No modifications were made to either the aircraft or its engines to enable the flight to take place.

Imperium Partners with Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Boeing and General Electric


Coconut Lethal Yellowing phytoplasma in symptomless weeds - Recognition of weeds as hosts of 16Sr IV group of phytoplasmas in Jamaica has epidemiological significance and suggests that weed control in and around coconuts may benefit disease management over the long term. It also lends credence to the possibility of the existence of another CLY vector other than Myndus crudus which has been known to feed only on monocotyledonous plants.

Brown et al 2007


Bikini islanders sceptical of plans to clean up atoll - Already victims of one nuclear experiment, the people of Bikini Atoll are understandably reluctant to get involved in another. The islanders are sceptical of the latest plans to reduce the dangers of a homeland beset with radioactive contamination. The US evicted all 167 residents of the central Pacific atoll in 1946 and tested 23 nuclear bombs in the area over the subsequent 12 years. The largest of these blasts was a 15 megaton test on 1 March 1954, code-named Bravo. The atoll was badly contaminated by fallout. To encourage the remaining islanders and their descendants to return, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have been investigating ways to prevent the caesium-137 in the soil from accumulating in the islanders' food. Potassium applied at 300, 660, 1260, and 2070kgha-1 lead to a 137Cs concentration in drinking-coconut meat that is 34, 22, 10, and about 4% of original concentration, respectively. Concentration of 137Cs remains low 8-10y after K is last applied. An explanation for this unexpected result is discussed.

Robison et al (2006) Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 88 (3) 251-266. [30 June 2006 news service]


Cocoeae becomes Cocoseae - a new phylogenetic classification of the palm family

Dransfield, et al, Kew Bull. 60, 559-569.

Fruit Component Analysis validated - Morphological variation of the coconut fruit measured in situ has been used to estimate genetic diversity, and generate hypotheses about the evolutionary and geographical diffusion of coconut. Some authors have questioned the validity of this methodology due to the possibly high effect of the environment on the morphological characteristics of the fruit. The general aim of this study is to validate this methodology through: (1) characterizing the pattern of morphological variation of the fruit under homogeneous growing conditions ex situ; (2) comparing this pattern with those already reported in situ; (3) estimating the heritability values for the components of fruit in coconut. Consistency was found between patterns of morphological variation of fruit ex situ and in situ, and those obtained using iso-enzymatic and molecular characteristics. The results are also consistent with hypotheses on the origin and diffusion of the germplasm We conclude that morphological characterization of the coconut fruit in situ is useful to estimate its genetic variability because of its simplicity, speed and ease of application in the field and in remote areas.

Zizumbo-Villarreal, D., M. Fernández-Barrera, N. Torres-Hernández, and P. Colunga-GarcíaMarín. 2005 Morphological variation of fruit in Mexican populations of Cocos nucifera L. (Arecaceae) under in situ and ex situ conditions. Gene. Resour. Crop. Evol. 52: 419-432.


Closest genetic relative - In this study, molecular data alone suggest that the wild progenitors of the coconut were from South America, and that coconuts did not originate in the western Pacific as currently accepted. Genetic relationships suggest that coconut may be the only extant member of its lineage. Fossil evidence of Cocoeae fruits (2-45 mya) from Australia, New Zealand and India are used to estimate times of divergences of its relatives. Geological dates imply that the coconut was present before the advent of humans. This eliminates any action of humans in its original distribution.

Gunn, B. (2004) The closest genetic relatives of the coconut (Cocos nucifera). 9th International Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology. University of Kent at Canterbury.

Coconut shells are porous - In the absence of the required literature, we therefore decided to perform our own experiments. The procedure was simple. We purchased a coconut and sawed it in half. (The cut was made along the equator with the “eyes”of the nut positioned at the North Pole.) We removed the meat from one half of the coconut but not from the other and placed both halves of the coconut in the tops of two measuring jugs (a typical coconut fits nicely into the top of a typical jug). We then filled both hemispherical shapes with water and waited. The results were unequivocal and surprisingly repeatable: no water ever passed through the coconut half where the meat remained, but the half where the meat had been removed leaked water at a rate of about 20 ml in 4 days.

Fitt, AD & Please, CP (2004) On the Separation of Coconuts: A Modeling Week Study. SIAM Review [Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics] 46(1) 128-139.


A resistant population of Atlantic Tall - a population of Mexican Atlantic Tall resistant to lethal yellowing disease, closely related to West African Tall and distantly related to yellow Malayan Dwarf.

Cardeňa et al (2003) Identification of RAPDs associated with resistance to lethal yellowing of the coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) palm. Scientia Horticulturae 98(3) 257-263.

Aswan, Egypt - Did a military hero plant coconuts on an island in the Nile?

Harries, Foale & Leach (2003) Kitchener's coconuts. Palms and Cycads (PACSOA) 76, 3-9.


Coconuts are inexpensive US$1- Since recent patch-clamp work has challenged the dogma that nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) are freely permeable to small particles, a preparation of isolated living nuclei in their native liquid environment was sought and found: the syncytial nuclei in the water of the coconut Cocos nucifera . . . This study shows, for the first time, that living NPCs engaged in NPC-mediated macromolecular transport do not transport physiological ions - a phenomenon that explains observations of nucleocytoplasmic ion gradients. Since coconuts are inexpensive (less than US$1/nut per litre), this robust preparation may contribute to understanding of NPCs and cell nucleus and to the development of biotechnologies for the production of DNA, RNA and proteins.

Bustamante (2002) Eur J Physiol 444: 286-290

A most expensive coconut shell £71,700 - Lieutenant William Bligh's coconut cup from the voyage in the ship's boat from Tofoa to Timor, Tuesday 28 April 1789 - Sunday 14 June 1789; signed and dated 'W Bligh April 1789' (the initials and date incised), inscribed 'The Cup I eat my miserable allowance of' around the outer rim, with inscription '263 The coconut out of which Bligh eat his bread and water. Mrs. Nutting, Beansale, Warwick' on a 19th-century museum label numbered '1086' tied to the coconut; approx. 4in. (10.2cm.) high; approx. 5in. (12.7cm.) diameter (4). Sold for £71,700 at Christies on 26 September 2002.


Coconut Time Line - a freely accessible knowledge base developed from more than four thousand citations in databases existing in 2001, listed alphabetically within year, regularly updated, partially annotated and cross-referenced (over 10,000 entries as of February 2017).

About This Site

Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine - a science award that makes you laugh, then think, awarded to Dr Peter Barrs for his 1984 paper "Injuries due to Falling Coconuts."


Coconut palms appear to be unusually sensitive to electromagnetic fields - Leaves growing within 30 to 60 cm of power lines typically exhibit chlorosis or necrosis at the leaf tip and can even die from this disorder. Leaves do not have to be in physical contact with the power lines for injury to occur.

Broschat TK, Meerow AW (2000) Ornamental Palm Horticulture. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Heavy water? Natural tritium levels in tender and ripe coconut fruit.

Narayan, K.K., Deo,J.V. & Abani,M.C. (2000)


Centre for Information on Coconut Lethal Yellowing (CICLY) - the first internet web site and discussion group devoted to coconut. It is intended to act as a clearing house for information about lethal yellowing and similar diseases of coconuts and other palms. Lethal yellowing is a phytoplasma disease and susceptible coconut palms die within 3 to 6 months of the first symptoms. Millions of coconut palms in the Caribbean and on the Atlantic coasts of Central and South America are at risk because the common variety is highly susceptible. Diseases with a phytoplasma aetiology also occur on coconut palms in West and East Africa. Phytoplasma have been associated with coconut diseases in southeast Asia, from where resistant varieties are also known.

More background information can be found at the discussion group page CICLY discussion group

Coconut carries the can - An article in the Far Eastern Economic Review blames coconut planting for massive deforestation in the Philippines. The writer, quoted below, does not seem to realise that the deforestation was caused by a demand for building materials and firewood. The coconut was planted to replace the forest because, at that time, it provided a reliable source income for the farmer. And the economists at that time were the first to encourage the farmers.

Coconut exports bring the Philippines lots of foreign exchange, and it is very important to its income. Coconut planting, however, results in massive deforestation, and due to the fact that coconut trees dominate in certain areas, the ecosystem must be changed. "But perhaps the most destructive legacy of the West's demand for coconut oil is the Philippines' poverty and economic underdevelopment." Even if the Philippines has got profits from coconut exports, the profits go to traders and exporters, not a third of the country's population, farmers. Now, "the value of coconut oil has fallen in real terms through the decades, partly as a result of increased production of substitutes such as American and Chinese soybean and cottonseed oil as well as sunflower-seed oil from the former Soviet republics." Tiglao concludes that "[e]ven now, the country faces tremendous problems that emerged a century ago, because of the West's cravings for soap and margarine."

Tiglao, R. (1999) Roots of Poverty, Far Eastern Economic Review 162 : 63-65


Coconut phytoplasma in SE Asia - The association of phytoplasma with two wilt diseases of coconut in Indonesia might be seen as a threat to the Asian & Pacific regions because epidemic phytoplasma diseases of coconut in America and Africa are spreading out of control. Yet research has already suggested that these diseases originated in the Far East, where resistant varieties can be found.

Harries, H.C. (1998) On the common origin in Southeast Asia of phytoplasma associated diseases of coconut. CORD 14(1), 1-25.
Allorerung, D., H.C. Harries, P. Jones & S. Warokka (eds) (1999) Proceedings of the Workshop on Lethal Diseases of Coconut caused by Phytoplasma and their importance in Southeast Asia. APCC.

Coconut and the "tropical oils" scandal - The American edible oil industry sponsored "information" to educate the public . . . Not being domestically grown in the U.S., coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil were not around to defend themselves . . . and by the mid-1980s, American food manufacturers and consumers had made major changes in their fats and oils usage - away from the safe saturated fats and headlong into the problematic trans fats. Enig and Fallon (1998/1999) have reviewed the above history in "The Oiling of America" published in the Australian magazine Nexus.

Oiling of America


Disease resistance breeding - it is argued that the coconut palm-phytoplasma disease relationship calls for a pragmatic strategy in which simple, block plantings generate both the test material for field exposure trials and the seednuts and pollen of resistant selections for direct use in the rehabilitation programmes. The more complicated strategy of small, replicated trial plots does not screen resistance realistically and cannot provide source material directly to rehabilitation programmes . . . Disease screening must be done under conditions that match the farming systems that will apply to the rehabilitation programme . . . Research into disease resistance must be directed FIRST to establishing realistic rehabilitation programmes and SECOND to generating new scientific knowledge; these roles often seem to be reversed.

Harries H.C. (1999) Breeding phytoplasma disease resistant coconuts: alternative strategies for field exposure trials. Proceedings International Cashew & Coconut Conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1997).


Spread of LY disease - first report of coconut lethal yellowing disease in Honduras.

Ashburner, G.R., Cordova, I.I. & Oropeza, C.M. Illingworth, R. & Harrison, N. 1996. Plant Disease 80: 960.

Moruroa - A team . . . conducted in 1996 a research on the effects of the French nuclear tests on the health and well-being of former test-site workers and islanders living in the vicinity of Moruroa and Fangataufa (the sites where the tests were carried out) . . . [an] inconsistency was the prohibition during the period of atmospheric tests to drink the water of the coconut, suggesting that the soil could be contaminated by radioactivity. Also the coconuts were removed from the trees, allegedly to prevent falling coconuts from causing accidents.

Documentation and Research Centre on Peace and Conflict (1996)


Evolution of Crop Plants (extract): In the past it was wrong to call the coconut palm a lazy man's crop. It needs so much manual labour. But now, it is right to call the copra trade a sunset industry. Copra sales can no longer pay for coconut research and development. If the coconut is to enter the 21st century as anything more than a subsistence crop its economic base needs to be redefined. The coconut palm is an environmentally friendly energy source. It is natures' own drinking water desalination plant. In remote locations it converts solar energy into diesel fuel. It can save wetlands, by substituting coir dust for peat moss. It is an ideal agroforesty plant for tropical coastlines, especially if global warming raises sea levels as predicted. These applications do not jeopardise the existing markets for standard products like coconut oil and desiccated coconut. Indeed, those markets will only benefit from a resurgence of interest in the coconut palm's other uses.

Harries, H.C. Coconut. In: J. Smartt & N.W. Simmonds (Eds) pp.389-394 (second edition). London, Longman


Coconut Industry into the 21st Century - APCC encourages initiative

Workshop on Standardization of Coconut Breeding Research Techniques - COGENT discourages initiative


Food for thought 1. - Nata de Coco - a chewy, translucent, traditional Philippine dessert which is a gel product prepared from coconut water by bacterial fermentation. In 1992, this dessert was introduced to Japan as a diet food. It was believed to protect the body against colon cancer and it became a boon for slimmers. Nata de coco is high in fiber, good for the digestive system, low in calories and contains no cholesterol. Its peak moment of popularity in Japan occurred in 1993. Nata de coco could be found everywhere at that time. The nata de coco boom was a stroke of luck for the Philippines. The cottage industry attracted many Filipino workers because making nata de coco is simple; it does not take high-tech machinery and a lot of money to produce. In Los Banos, a major producing area, the crime rate dropped dramatically, because the people committing crimes were working to make nata de coco. However, the production of nata de coco could not catch up with its demand in Japan and, after the nata de coco boom in Japan was over, people moved to another dessert. As a result of this, many problems have arisen in the Philippines.

More information

Food for thought 2. - Hypothesizing about Palm Weevil and Palm Rhinoceros Beetle Larvae as Traditional Cuisine, Tropical Waste Recycling and Pest and Disease Control on Coconut and Other Palms -- Can They be Integrated?

DeFoliart (1993) Principes 37 (1) pp

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - a coconut palm (Golden Dwarf) flowered [and fruited?] for the first time in the Palm House


Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT) established by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources


Cryopreservation of mature embryos of coconut (Cocos nucifera L) and subsequent regeneration of plantlets.

Assy-Bah, B & Engelmann, F. CryoLetters 13, 117-126.

DNA probes for the detection of MLO associated with LYD of palms in Florida.

Harrison, NA, Bourne, CM, Cox, RL, Tsai, JH & Richardson, PA Phytopathology 82(2) 216-224


Priority - "Coconut production: Present status and priorities for research". World Bank Technical Paper - the title of this report accurately reflected the World Bank's priority for coconut research - it took about 5 years to produce the document


Domestication theory - At one time it was thought that the ancestors of modern Cocos nucifera reached the Western Pacific area by long distance dispersal along a southern route from America, with a fossil (Cocos zeylandica) in New Zealand as a remnant of such a pathway. The concept of a southern route is an unnecessary complication. An origin for the whole Cocoeae tribe in western Gondwanaland seems most compatible with the present day distribution. The tribe probably differentiated shortly before the break up of that super-continent. Members radiated and became very diverse in the Americas; some rafted on the African and Madagascar Plates, where they survive to the present day; others rafted on the Indian plate, where they are now extinct. With its ability to float the coconut became independent of plate tectonics for its dispersal. The wild type evolved by floating between the volcanic islands and atolls where these fringed the continental plates and not on the lands masses at all. Islands in the Tethys Sea could have been the ancestral home of the coconut, from where it dispersed by floating to other islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans but not into the Atlantic. It would also have floated to continental coastlines but would have stood less chance of surviving competition from other plants or predation by animals until domesticated by early man. The continental coast and larger islands of Malesia was the site for such domestication long before both wild and domestic types were taken into agricultural cultivation.

Harries, H.C. (1990) Malesian origin for a domestic Cocos nucifera. In P.Baas et al (eds) The Plant Diversity of Malesia 351-357


Forest coconut, Madagascar

Dransfield, J. (1989) Voanioala (Arecoideae; Cocoeae; Butiinae) a new palm genus from Madagascar. Kew Bull. 44 (2) 191-198

Makapuno Island - Large scale monoculture of homozygous recessive makapuno coconuts by the Bangkok Flowers Centre Co., Ltd. started in 1987, by culturing embryos excised from makapuno nuts that were collected from heterozygous makapuno coconut palms (known as Maphrao Kathi) from throughout eastern Thailand and from Samut Songkhram down to Prachuap Kirikhan province. Altogether, some 60,000 makapuno embryos were cultured, using the embryo rescue techniques first achieved in the Philippines by Emerita de Guzman and subsequently developed by Linda Rillo. Within 6-8 months, the embryos had produced shoots with 3-5 leaves and good root systems. They were then deflasked and 2,500 plantlets were transplanted to a nursery for 4-5 months, reaching a height of about 50-70 cm.

The embryo rescued plants were planted from August 21, 1988-December 31, 1990 on what is called Makapuno Island . . . an island created when the Thai government constructed Vachiralongkhorn dam in a deforested area of Thongphaphum district, Kanchanaburi province near the Burmese border. When the valleys were submerged the mountain peaks turned into islands. With all the large forest trees and any coconut palms on the island destroyed, the embryo-rescued Makapuno palms were planted in isolation. No stray coconut pollen reaches the island because of the distance across the water barrier, so that all the palms produce 100 percent Makapuno fruits.

Uithai Charanasri (1993) Large Scale Monoculture of Homozygous Recessive Makapuno Coconut Trees. Proc. 31st Ann. Conf. Kesetsart University, Bangkok; 3-6 February 1993.

Vanuatu -- There would have been extensive coconut groves of great antiquity growing along the sandy shores and lagoons of the islands, though in total the area covered would not have been large, as the rapid and continuing uplift of Vanuatu has not permitted the formation of many beaches -- wide, jagged and bare coral platforms being far more common. It is likely that these groves, not having been planted by the hand of man, would have been the common property of the people of the area and not subject to periodic destruction in death duties. These groves comprised, as they do today, dense stands of palms of many hundreds to the hectare, within which the palms grow according to the light and root-room available. Old palms die and young ones grow up to fill the gaps. In cyclones they give mutual support to each other and losses are generally few. There is deep overall shade, limiting competition from other species, the hierarchy regenerates itself and no intervention is required by man to perpetuate it. Once these groves were uplifted away from the seashore, the improved soil conditions that evolved allowed other plant species to compete more successfully and overwhelm them. Hence, there are no natural coconut groves which have advanced far inland, higher and higher, with successive uplifts.



Coconut Bill - Of all the throws to rain down from the many floats in the New Orleans Mardi Gras carnival parade, the Zulu coconut or "Golden Nugget" is the most sought after. The earliest reference to the coconut appears to be about 1910 when the coconuts were given from the floats in their natural "hairy" state. Some years later there is a reference to Lloyd Lucus, "the sign painter," scraping and painting the coconuts. This, in all likelihood, was the forerunner to the beautifully decorated coconuts we see today.

With the proliferation of lawsuits from people alleging injury from thrown coconuts, the organization was unable to get insurance coverage in 1987. So that year, the honored tradition was suspended. After much lobbying, the Louisiana Legislature passed SB188, aptly dubbed the "Coconut Bill," which excluded the coconut from liability for alleged injuries arising from the coconuts handed from the floats. On July 8, 1988, then-governor Edwards signed the bill into law.

History of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Inc.


Embryo culture - practical application.

Assy Bah, B., Durand-Gasselin, T. & Pannetier, C. (1987) Use of zygotic embryo culture to collect germplasm of coconut (Cocos nucifera). Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 71, 4-10.


Virus - Association of single-stranded DNA with the foliar decay disease of coconut palm in Vanuatu..

Randles, J.W., Julia, J.F., Calvez, C. & Dollet, M Phytopathology 76, 889-894.

Roots - The distribution and morphology of thee roots of 5, 11 and 13 year old Nigerian Tall coconuts in fields at Nifor Main Station and Badagry on sandy and clay-loam soils respectively were studied by direct examination.

Quantitative estimate of the distribution of the roots laterally and vertically showed that the mass of primary roots were significantly higher than roots of the other orders. The primary roots had zones of concentration laterally and vertically which were significantly different , while the distribution of the secondaries and combined tertiatries and higher order roots showed no significant differences either laterally or vertically between the 12 distance and four depth intervals studied except at the 0-30 cm depth in the 13 year old palms in which the tertiaries and higher order roots combined had significantly higher concentration than at other depths.

Root production in the five year old palms showed that significantly more roots were produced under Pueraria phaseoloides and Centrosema pubescens covers than under bare soil condition.

In the mature palms, the results suggest that up to the distance 3.6m investigated, the zone of fertilizer placement may not be critical. For the young palms, however, application should be restricted to about 0.6m radius for efficient utilisation by the palms. In both young and adult palms, surface application by broadcasting or incorporating to a depth not exceeding 60 cm, particularly slopy (sic) areas is recommended to enhance efficient utlisation.

Omoti, Amalu & Ataga (1986)


Mexico - the arrival and spread of lethal yellowing on mainland, continental America.

Pina-R., J. & Carrillo-R, H. (1985) Distribution and propagation of lethal yellowing of coconut palm in the State of Quintana-Roo, Mexico. Ann. Meet. Am. Phytopath. Soc. (Caribbean Div.) Phytopath 76, 376.

Coconuts in swampy soil - Due to inundation of the soil during high tide coconuts do not develop an efficient root system under swampy conditions ... When the tip of (main) root strikes permanent water table it starts rotting. To compensate for such a death of the functional portion of the main root, branch roots develop from (the tip below - surely above) the rotting portion of the main root. Also new roots develop from bole and stem . . . Coconuts in swamps produce a much larger number of main roots which are much shorter. Their tips rot frequently inducing the growth of numerous branch roots.. The abundant rootlets developing from the main roots ramify into a root matting one metre from the bole. Also in such palms superabundant pneumatophores or respiratory organs develop on the roots closer to the bole. Dampness and waterlogging induce the production of respiratory organs confirmed by subjecting young seedlings to those conditions when they responded quickly.

Davis, T.A., Sudasrip, H. & Darwis, S.N. (1985) Coconut Research Institute, Manado.


Early coconut remains from the South Pacific

Spriggs, M.J.T. Polynesian Society J. 93, 71-77.

Self-sown, wild type coconuts in Australia & the Philippines

Buckley, R. & Harries, H.C. Biotropica 16, 148-151 & Gruezo, W.S. & Harries, H.C. Biotropica 16, 140-147.

Coconut plantlets from leaf tissue culture - unfortunately, this claim was never substantiated or repeated.

Nambiar & Thankamma Pillai, Journal of Plantation Crops 12(1) 75-91.

Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine - a science award that makes you laugh, then think, awarded to Dr Peter Barrs in 2001 for "Injuries due to Falling Coconuts."

J Trauma. 24 (11) 990-1.


The Coconut Wireless - a monthly journal covering coconut processing developments, was started in Spring 1983 and continued for 106 issues until February 1992. With a running sub-title starting at “Year ONE of the Coconut Revolution” and a price tag of $2 per issue, the publisher and editor, Allan Hansvold, wrote about the “Modernization of the Coconut Industry” with a very personal style in a typewritten, newspaper column format. On his first “In a Nutshell” Op-Ed Page he foresaw “electronic messengers . . . rapidly replacing the postcard and letter” and under the heading “Editor's Comment” he said build up industrial outlets for coconut chemicals, phase out copra making and quit trying to compete head to head with the soybean industry in the food markets.

Thanks to Dennis Johnson, who has the complete set of “Coconut Wireless”


Myndus taffini vecteur du deperissement foliares des cocotiers au Vanuatu.

Julia, J.F. Olagineux 37, 409-414.

Hop stringing - "Although experiments have been carried out with polypropylene string, coir is still generally used because it stretches a little when wet, thus taking more strain when it is most needed, and shrinks in drying, tightening up the whole system. Its hairy surface is perfect for the hairs on the hop bines and leaves to grip".

Filmer, R (1982) Hops and hop picking. Shire Publications 1998

Agro-forestry in the African Humid Tropics - Edited by L. H. MacDonald. Proceedings of a Workshop Held in Ibadan, Nigeria, 27 April - 1 May 1981 NRTS-17/UNUP-364. The United Nations University, 1982. Found on the internet, this publication has an extensive bibliography which used an earlier (1983) version of the original Coconut Time Line database.



The antiquity of the coconut in Western Borneo.

Harries, H.C. J. Sarawak Mus. XXXIX (50), 239-242.

Germination and taxonomy of the coconut palm.

Harries, H.C. Ann. Bot. 48, 873-883.


Further proof that Myndus crudus is the vector of lethal yellowing

Howard, F.W. & Thomas, D.L. (1980) Transmission of palm lethal decline to Veitchia merrillii by planthopper Myndus crudus. J. econ. Ent. 73, 715-717.


Nuts to the Garden of Eden

Harries, H.C. Principes 23, 143-148.

Coconut Breeding: a review of work since 1972 - The common coconut, or tall, is known to be quite variable. The lack of uniformity, between the palms from each country, means no Cocos nucifera is typical var. typica. Instead, two types identify - the Niu kafa and the Niu vai. The first evolved to float, not sink, the second, man selects to drink and, on the prehistoric shore, this helped develop hand and jaw. Which of the two predominate, on beach, small farm or large estate, can be determined, any day, by a statistical survey that, with appropriate precautions, analyses fruit proportions.

Variability is expressed where the two types have introgressed. Technically, in genetics, to introgress just means genes mix. Compare the data and proceed to choose the palms from which to breed. Domestic or industrial use for copra, oil or the juice as a refreshing drink, can be decided on more rationally when all concerned appreciate that there is more to nuts than weight.

As for the dwarf, it will be found, in four years to fruit near the ground. Give weed control and fertilize and people may not recognise, in thirty years, dwarf palms that all are up to fifteen metres tall. But better still, the breeders claim, are hybrid sorts, in which the aim is to combine the best of each. These types are now within our reach by Mascopol or, en francais, pollinisation assiste. Grow dwarf palms in isolation, daily make emasculation, from other palms take pollen and blow it or dust it on by hand. Pollen for long distance dispatch is dried and sent in vacuum packs.

Disease susceptibility must also have priority. If resistance, say to MLO, evolved thousands of years ago then palms and their diseases are in active equilibria. This means disease is still around though epidemics are not found, and where the balance is upset recurrent outbreaks may be met. Despite the best intentions, this may be the breeders' nemesis. Those who wish to can arrange a way to minimise the danger. Where introgression has occurred local selections are preferred to imports, under quarantine, with all the problems these may mean.

The benefits that can accrue from work that the plant breeders do will not ensure a higher yield, unless the farmer in the field, improves cultural management. For that you can some verse invent.

Niu Haari (1979) Coconut Breeding: a review of work since 1972


Evolution theory - The evolution, dissemination and classification of the coconut can be considered as a logical sequence. First came the natural evolution and dissemination by floating of a variety with large, long, angular, thick-husked and slow-germinating fruit. It had a theoretical range anywhere between the east coast of Africa and the west coast of America, wherever currents were favourable. From this type, selection under cultivation produced a spherical-fruited variety, not necessarily larger but with increased endosperm, reduced husk thickness, earlier germination and disease resistance. Man came to rely on this coconut for food, drink, shelter and fuel, the basic necessities of life. Although not suited for dissemination by floating, it was taken long distances by boat, reaching initially as far west as southern India and Sri Lanka and as far east as the Samoan Islands. Subsequently, hybridisation and introgression of the two contrasting forms gave the wide range of varieties and pan-tropical distribution seen today. A classification system in which the varieties are identified by the degree of introgression (based in the first place on fruit component analysis) is described. This in turn allows a suggestion to be made concerning the location of the much-debated centre of origin for Cocos nucifera.

Harries, H.C. 1978 The evolution, dissemination and classification of Cocos nucifera. Botanical Review 44: 265-320.


Fungi INSIDE unopened nuts

Puspasendjoj, N. & Christensen, C.M. (1977) Fungus flora of coconuts. Turrialba 27, 255-258.

Atlantic and Caribbean coconuts - the most likely site for the introduction of the coconut to the Atlantic seaboard is the island of Santiago, in the Cape Verde group; the earliest possible date is 1499; the probable source of seed is Moçambique. From 1549, the Cape Verde coconuts were disseminated to coasts and islands of West Africa, South America and the Caribbean so that those coconut populations are basically the same as coconuts in East Africa, India or Sri Lanka.

Harries, H.C. (1977) The Cape Verde region (1499 to 1549); the key to coconut culture in the Western Hemisphere? Turrialba 27, 227-231 (here).


Mycoplasma-like organisms associated with coconut palms in West Africa.

Dabek, A.J., Johnson, C.G. & Harries, H.C. PANS 22,(3) 354-358.


Viroid - Association of two ribonucleic acid species with cadang-cadang disease of coconut palms.

Randles, J.W. Phytopathology 65, 163-166.

Pollination of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in Jamaica by honeybees and wasps.

Free, J.B. & Williams, I.H. App. Animal Ethology 1, 213-224.


Dissemination - "Inland every [coconut] tree owes its existence to man; on the coasts most of them do so."

Child, R. (1974) Coconuts (second edition) Longmans, London.

Embryo culture - The growth and development in soil of Makapuno seedlings cultured in vitro.

de Guzman, E.V. & del Rosario, A.G. NRCP Res. Bull 29,16.

Maypan: an F1 hybrid coconut variety for commercial production.

Harries, H.C. & Romney, D.H. World Crops 26, 110-111


Tissue culture - an account of a project started in 1970. Today (Tuesday 22 February 2011) no method of in vitro, clonal propagation has been acheived. Surely, "a long slow road".

Schwabe, W.W. (1973) The long slow road to better coconut palms. Spectrum 103, 9-10.


Breakthrough in LY research in Jamaica when samples sent to electron microscopy laboratories in Germany, the UK and the USA were found to contain MLO (mycoplasma-like organisms, subsequently known as phytoplasma)

Beakbane, A.B., Slater, C.H.W. & Posnette, A.F. (1972) Mycoplasmas in the phloem of coconut, Cocos nucifera L., with lethal yellowing disease. J. Horticultural Science. 47, 265; Heinze, K., Petzold, H. & Marwitz, R. (1972) Beitrag zur Aetiologie der Todlichen Vergilbung der Kokospalme Phytopath. Z. 74, 230-237; Plavsic-Banjac, B., Hunt, P. & Maramorosch, K. (1972) Mycoplasmalike bodies associated with lethal yellowing disease of coconut palms. Phytopathology 62, 298-299.

Remission of lethal yellowing in coconut palm treated with tetracycline antibiotics.

McCoy, R.E. Plant Dis. Rep. 56, 1019-1021.


Kenya - "A dwarf variety with bright yellow nuts is often referred to as the King Coconut whilst the names of Pemba and Kitamli also seem to belong here. Trees of this variety are uncommon except in gardens and I know of no commercial plantings. Apparently it is not favoured as it is a poor producer of copra and the nuts are easily stolen. A tall variety, which has no particular name, being simply called mnazi (Swahili: coconut). Personally I have dubbed it Kenya Tall or East African Tall for want of something better. All commercial plantings are of this variety and it appears to be something of a mixed bag genetically. Nuts are normally green or brownish-green to orange-brown. I have come across trees with yellow nuts but they are decidedly uncommon. Nut shape ranges from almost spherical to very much elongated (up to twice as long as wide) with something in between being the norm. Nothing is known of the origin of this variety it certainly being of considerable antiquity and has probably been cultivated since the first permanent settlement of this coast. I suspect a possibility, however, that its diversity has been added to by introductions of material from other areas, as trade between this coast and other ports of the Indian Ocean developed."

Adams (1971, p.15)

Dissemination - Sauer was anxious that the tremendous prehistoric range of the species should not be considered as testimony of long-range dispersal by ancient voyagers. He favoured the possibility that spontaneous coconut populations may be truly wild and capable of wide natural dispersal. He suggested that Cocos nucifera is best regarded as a semi-domesticated species, a complex of local populations with all degrees of dependence upon man, from nil to complete.

Sauer, J.D. A re-evaluation of the coconut as an indicator of human dispersal. In: C.L. Riley et al (eds) Man Across the Sea. University of Texas Press, Austin.


Bicarpellate coconut in Peru

Smit, E.H.D. (1970) Morphological and anatomical studies of the coconut. Thesis, Wageningen, 107p. Meded. Landbouw. Hoges, Wageningen 70-8.

Coconut - Microscopic structure. Pericarp - The mesocarp consists of parenchyma, often pigmented, in which are embedded fibrous strands. each strand is surrounded by a thick sheet of fibres. At intervals on the outside of the sheet are found cells known as stegmata, each containing a warty silica body up to 12 in diameter. The core of the strand is of vascular tissue, there being two groups of phloem and one of xylem. Endocarp - The endocarp consists of some vascular tissue and many stone cells with dark brown contents and yellow walls. The stone cells may be elongated or isodiametric. Testa- the cells of the outer testa are often spindle shaped up to 130 in length and have distinctly pitted walls. those of the inner test are isodiametric, thin walled and have yellow-brown contents. Endosperm - The outer two or three layers of endosperm cells are isodiametric; those of the inner layers are radially elongated, reaching 300 but with an average length of 160 and an average width of 40. The cell contents are oil drops and aleurone grains with marked crystalloids, up to 25 in diameter. Pits even if they are present in the cell walls are not marked and the walls are essentially smooth.

Vaughan, J.G. (1970) The structure and utilization of oil seeds. Chapman & Hall. p183-185 Coconut.


Asia - The danger of substitution of products or of the source of supply has very much darkened the future of the coconut economy of Asia - United Nations, The Coconut Industry of Asia, 1969

Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) established: The objectives of the APCC are to promote, coordinate and harmonize all activities of the coconut industry which sustains the lives of millions of small farmers as well as those engaged in industries developed around the production, processing and marketing of coconut products.


Coconut Breeders' Consultative Committee - "The introduction of coconut seednuts for immediate commercial use, or the exchange of seednuts and pollen for breeding, is common practice. Activities such as these will only be fully effective when it is known whether or not geographically isolated populations are distinct varieties. 'Coconut Breeding' by reporting the behaviour of introductions and hybrids in comparison with local populations, will assist in the evaluation of this breeding material. Information received from contributors to the FAO Coconut Breeders' Consultative Committee will be collated once a year so that 'Coconut Breeding' will continually up-date previous records of germplasm exchange; at the same time showing where seednuts and pollen are available or required. All aspects of coconut breeding will be dealt with and it is intended that both research and commercial organisations will take part. Participation in the Committee has been requested by individuals and organisations in all major coconut producing countries . . .".

FAO (1969-1979) Coconut Breeding. Yearly progress reports, ad hoc Coconut Breeders' Consultative Committee, FAO, Rome.


Panama - during a consultant visit Romney found that the coconut variety known at that time in Jamaica as San Blas did not occur on those islands on the the Caribbean coast but was common on the Pacific coast. This was the first clue that the two varieties which occur on the two coasts of Central and South America had different origins.

Romney, D.H. (1968) The suitability of the Republic of Panama for the cultivation of coconuts. MACI, Panama.

Olive oil – No coconut palm existed at the discovery of America in 1492; if it had existed, the Spanish colonizers and missionaries would not have laboured so much to establish the olive crop for the production of vegetable oil [Al descubrimiento de America en 1492, no existia la palmera de coco; de haber existido, los colonizadores y los misioneros españoles no se hubieran afanado tanto en la implantacion del cultivo del olivo para la produccion de aceite vegetal.”

Gattoni, 1968 El cocotero en Panama. Min. Ag., Comm. Ind.; Segunda Edicion, Rep. de Panama.


Harvesting coconuts - monkeys can be trained to harvest ripe nuts or drinking nuts. They cannot be unionised but they tend to "go slow" when working in the crown of a palm that is full of ants.

Bertrand, M. (1967) Training without reward: traditional training of pigtailed macaques as coconut harvesters. Science 155, 484-486.


No wild coconuts - "The history of this palm becomes one of the intriguing problems of botany . . . it has achieved a mechanism for long distance dispersal, yet it is nowhere wild!"

Corner, E.J.H. 1966 The natural history of palms. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.

Coconut clockwork - "A diagram can be made to show the clockwork of the palm crown by representing the leaves as if they formed one side of the stem apex . . . If the interval between successive leaf-openings or leaf-yellowings is p days and the number of open leaves in the crown is n, the working life of the leaf is np days; its period of development must also be np days. Therefore, the total age of the leaf is 2np days. In other words it is necessary merely to time the opening of leaves, or their ageing, and count the number of open leaves in the crown to discover the apparently recondite age of any leaf. . . In the case of the coconut, which I did not explore fully, p is said to be about one month (Venkatanarayana, 1957) and if n = 30, 2np = 60 months or five years . . . If s be the number indicating the station of an open leaf in the crown as reckoned from the centre, the age of that leaf will be (n + s)p, for there are n leaves in the bud and s leaves in order of opening. Similarly the age of any leaf in the bud is sp. The whole age of the palm will be the age of the crown (2np) plus the trunk-age, plus a sapling period before the trunk began to rise. To determine the trunk-age, the number of leaf-scars or old leaf-bases along the trunk must be counted or estimated(1) and multiplied by p, which is the time-interval between successive leaves . . . The sapling age can be determined only by observation(2) . . ."

Corner (1966) Extracts from p44 et seq.

The sapling period estimated by Corner as “five years from germination” is modified in the following notes:

  1. To estimate the number of leaf-base scars along the trunk, count those in an accesible stem length (x) and multiple by the measured total length of the stem (y). Allowing that leaf scar intervals decrease as the palm ages, the trunk age is approximately pxy+z and total palm age is 2np+pxy+z (where (z) is the sapling period).

  2. The sapling period (z) of tall types with slender curved stems is 4-5 years; for those with robust erect stems it is 5-6 years; while dwarf types take 3-4 years.

Coconut roots - It has been calculated that eight thousand roots, one centimetre thick, emerge from the base of a normal coconut or oil palm, and the number may be as high as thirteen thousand (Copeland, 1906; Surre & Ziller, 1963; Davis, 1961) . . . The roots of the coconut-palm spread horizontally for twenty to thirty feet in the soil. They branch two to four times, more or less at right-angles and they diminish to rootlets one millimetre wide. They cover an area which exceeds the diameter of the crown, and they are so firmly intruded into the soil that nothing less than a hurricane may dislodge them. An uprooted palm is extremely rare. Undermining the soil, as on sea-coasts, causes the palm to lean and coconut trunks seventy feet or more may incline horizontally over the shelving beach, but the roots do not break in spite of the enormous strain. The coconut-palm also produces special breathing roots (pneumathodes). They are very short, spiky rootlets three to six millimetres long, grown on all sides of the more superficial roots. They do not breath but the loose texture of their cortical cells, which swell up and flare out like the powdery tissue of lenticels in tree-trunks, allows the ready diffusion of oxygen into the rootlet and carbon dioxide out. The spiky tip is the dried and hardened root-cap.

Corner (1966) Extracts from p 104 et seq.


Speed of germination - the possibility that the speed of germination might be a characteristic of taxonomic significance was suspected by Whitehead. Subsequently two disparate rates were resolved: slow germination (and isolation in the coral atoll ecosystem) favoured natural selection of a wild type (Harries & Clement, 2013) whereas, quick germination (when rising sea levels inundated extensive areas of Malesia) favoured domestic selection (Harries 1981 & 2012).

Whitehead, R.A. (1965) Speed of germination, a characteristic of possible taxonomic significance in Cocos nucifera L. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 42, 369-372.
Harries, H.C. (1981) Germination & taxonomy of the coconut. Ann. Bot. 48, 873-883.
Harries, H. C. (2012) Germination rate is the significant characteristic determining coconut palm diversity. AoB Plants doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls045 (or here).
Harries H.C. & Clement, C.R. (2013) Long-distance dispersal of the coconut palm by migration within the coral atoll ecosystem. Annals of Botany 2013; doi: 10.1093/aob/mct293


World wide survey of coconut diseases of unknown etiology such as cadang-cadang in the Philippines and lethal yellowing in Jamaica.

Maramorosch, K. (1964) A survey of coconut diseases of unknown etiology. FAO, Rome.

Germplasm collection - in 1964 the Research Department of thee Coconut Industry Board in Jamaica introduced 1,266 seednuts from 30 populations in 8 Pacific territories and in 1966-7 a further 1,200 seednuts from 28 populations in 8 Asian, American and African countries. No other collections, before or since, have been so well or so publicly documented. Subsequently, some varieties showed practical levels of resistance to lethal yellowing disease trials and were used as pollen parents for F1 hybrids.

Whitehead, R.A. (1966) Sample survey and collection of coconut germplasm in the Pacific islands (30 May - 5 September 1964). Ministry of Overseas Development. HMSO, London.

Whitehead, R.A. (1968) Collection of coconut germplasm from the Indian/Malaysian Region, Peru and the Seychelles Islands and testing for resistance to Lethal Yellowing disease. FAO, CPL 17.

Leaf spiral - any given coconut palm has either a left or a right handed spiral, depending on how the leaves emerge from the bud. There is a statistical chance that one form will out-yield the other (possibly affected by latitude north or south of the equator) so that nursery rejection of approximately "50%" of the seedlings could produce potentially higher yielding planting material.

Davis, T.A. (1964) Leaf spiral and yield in coconuts. Nature 204, 496-497.


Patino, V.M. (1963) Plantas cultivadas y animales domesticos en america Equinoccial. Cali, Colombia.


Jamaica - within three years of establishment, the Research Department of the Coconut Industry Board, Jamaica was making fundamental discoveries.

Whitehead, R.A. & Chapman, G.P. (1962) Twinning and haploidy in Cocos nucifera. Nature 195, 1228-1229.
Whitehead, R.A. (1962) Room temperature storage of coconut pollen. Nature 196(4850), 190.

Brazil - it is reported that Brazil had in 1962 ten million dwarf King Coconut palms, all of which were the offspring since 1942 of two palms that had survived importation from Ceylon in 1925.

Corner, E.J.H. 1966 The natural history of palms. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.


Climbing the coconut - Heath-Robinson would have been proud of this machine that climbed coconut palms when hand-operated by a crank.

Davis, T.A. (1961) Climbing the coconut. World Crops


Coconut domestication - Fosberg considered that the coconut may have been domesticated from a wild species growing somewhere in the present optimum range of the modern coconut but with smaller, less satisfactory fruit. He thought that as it became domesticated it was spread through the agency of man, over an increasingly wide area. Eventually, it replaced its wild ancestor and the original habitat and centre of domestication became obscured. Whilst allowing that dissemination could take place by floating, it was his experience that when coconuts sprout where they have drifted ashore this has always been where there are planted coconuts nearby.

Fosberg, F.R. (1960) A theory on the origin of the coconut. In: Symposium on the impact of man on humid tropics vegetation. Goroka, TPNG pp 73-75. Comm. Govt. Printers, Canberra.

Yap's Unique Method of Coconut Cultivation - Two types are used for propagation. The "Thifow" (Ever-bearing) variety, which produces large conoid-shaped nuts and bears continuously, is cultivated for copra production, while the "Nugel" (Resting palm) variety, which produces small-sized ovoid-shaped nuts and has a complete break in production every two years, is highly regarded for eating . . . The Yapese theory is that if the haustorium and endosperm are left to deteriorate at the base of the seedling in the ground, the subsequent fermentation will retard healthy growth. This system of preparing the seedlings for planting is believed to have been followed for centuries. When the endosperm and haustorium have been removed from the stemmed half of the shell, the empty kernel is filled with soil of the local area where the seed-nut will be planted.

Micronesian Reporter, September-October 1960, 8 (5) 12-13, 16-17.

Agricultural Period 1959-1926

The "Agricultural" period covers the time when all the straightforward agricultural research was done to increase copra production, beginning with the first scientific cross-pollination (in Fiji) and lasting until coconut's own "Green Revolution" (in Jamaica) where high density planting of disease resistant dwarf varieties also involved the proper use of fertilizers and herbicides.