Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cocoa-nut, now often spelt Coker-nut so as to avoid confusion with the seeds of the cacao (q.v.), is the "nut" or hard interior of the fruit (endocarp) of Cocos nucifera, the type of a small genus of palms. The cocoa-nut palm is apparently a native of the Indian Archipelago, but has been dispersed throughout the tropics from early times, flourishing especially near the sea. It has a cylindric stem reaching two feet in diameter, and from 60 to 100 feet in height; a crown of pinnate leaves, each 18 to 20 feet long, with a sheathing and fibrous base, and branching monoecious spadices 5 or 6 feet long in a tough spathe, succeeded by bunches of from ten to twenty fruits. These are about a foot long, six or eight inches across, three-sided, with a membranous epicarp, fibrous mesocarp, stony shell or endocarp, and one seed filling its cavity. The seed has a brown testa, fleshy perisperm, and a milky liquid endosperm. No tree of the tropics has so many uses, every part of it being employed, and in Southern India furnishing several of the chief necessaries of life. The wood of the outer part of the stem is used, under the name of Porcupine wood, for inlaying; the leaves for thatch, mats, hats, etc.; the fibrous mesocarp, under the name of coir (q.v.), for cordage, etc.; the shell or endocarp for bottles, cups, spoons, and, when properly burnt, for excellent charcoal and lamp-black. The perisperm or solid white kernel contains 36 per cent. of oil known as copra oil, from which, by pressure, the solid stearine used for candles is separated from the liquid lamp-oil. The "milk," when fresh, is an agreeable drink; and from the sap of the spadix sugar is obtained, and, by fermentation, toddy, from which vinegar and, by distillation, arrack are prepared. Cocoa-nut oil is imported in kegs of 1 cwt., barrels of 3 cwt., and hogsheads of 4 cwt. each; imports into Great Britain in 1890 exceeding 9,000 tons.