Cocos nucifera
Common Name: coconut palm 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Arecaceae
Native Range: Tropical Regions
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 50.00 to 100.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy white to yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Street Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12. This tropical species thrives in humid, frost free coastal lowlands and seashores. Best growth occurs in moderately fertile, humusy, moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Needs minimum temperature of 64 degrees F. to produce fruit. May be grown in containers (sow seed in spring) in a soil-based potting mixture with grit or sand added.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cocos nucifera, commonly called coconut or coconut palm, is a tall tree that is native to tropical islands in the western Pacific. It has been commonly planted in frost free tropical areas throughout the world in a variety of conspicuous locations including coastal areas, beaches, parks, along streets, residential yards, near commercial buildings/hotels, and on golf courses. In the U. S., it will grow in southern Florida, the southern tip of Texas and Hawaii. It does not perform well in southern California. Trees will typically mature to 50-100' tall over time. This is a single-trunked palm with a branchless, often-curved, light gray trunk which is swollen at the base and topped by a crown of pinnate, downward-arching, green fronds (to 15-20' long). Fragrant yellow flowers in elongated clusters to 4' long only appear in tropical climates where they bloom on and off throughout the year. Female flowers are followed by single-seeded coconuts (to 14" long). Each coconut has a fibrous husk which surrounds a woody shell containing the coconut meat, milk and oil which are used in numerous food products around the world. Drinkable coconut water is the liquid inside green coconuts. Coconut milk is produced by grating the matue coconut meat, mixing it with water and then squeezing. Coconut meat can be eaten raw or cooked. Dried coconut meat (copra) is crushed to obtain coconut oil with residue sometimes added to animal feed. Coconut oil is used in cooking, cosmetics, soaps and margarine. The growing tip of this palm can be harvested and marketed under the name of heart of palm, but harvesting kills the plant. Other plant parts have a variety of uses, particularly in the Far East, including trunk (construction), fronds (weaving, baskets, thatching), endosperm (cosmetics) and sap (palm sugar or toddy).

Genus name comes from the Portuguese word coco meaning mask.

Specific epithet means bearing nuts.

Problems

Lethal yellowing is a serious disease which has killed thousands of coconut palms in Florida. It is spread by a leaf hopper. Injections help stabilize plants but will not cure the disease. Resistant varieties are being developed. Insect pest problems include palm leaf skeletonizer, aphids, nematodes and scale. Spider mites.

Garden Uses

Large palm grown ornamentally and/or for harvest to coconut fruits.