Fruits Vegetables
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Coconut, Cocos nucifera / Palmae
There are two types of varieties distinguished from the palm species Cocos nucifera: allogamous (crossed fertilization) and autogamous (self-fertilization).

The allogamous varieties are designated with the term "large coconut palm’ (or Typica). The most widely cultivated allogamous varieties are divided in two groups. On the one hand, plants that bear a large number of coconuts of medium size and scarce copra yield: common coconut palm of West Africa, the Seychelles Islands, the Hebrides, and the coconut from the Lakshadweep Islands (India). On the other hand, the second group includes plants bearing an average number of large coconuts, each one of them yielding a large output of copra: coconut "Ramona’, eld eKo-Samul (Thailand), Haiti, Kappadam (India) and San Blas (Panama).

Within the autogamous varieties we find smaller coconut palms. They are known as ‘dwarf’ varieties. They usually measure between 10 and 12 m high. They are very precocious and bear a large number of small coconuts. Dwarf coconut palms are classified according to the colour of the inflorescence and the fruit: "green dwarf’ ("Plumilla’), "yellow dwarf’ (" Eburnea’) and "red dwarf’ ("Regia’). These varieties usually bear a large quantity of coconuts but few copra. Due to their precocity they are of great interest in the selection processes. The hybrids "Enanos" x "Grandes" have proved to be highly productive. The hybrids of greater interest are: "PB 121 ", "Enano Rojo’ x "Tahiti’, "Enano rojo de Camerún" x "Oeste Africano’ and "Enano rojo de Camerún" x "Rennell". There are many other types of coconut palms of botanical interest.

The material used at the moment is chiefly composed of more precocious "Dwarf’ hybrids with a much higher yield of copra per hectare in the adult stage (5 to 6 tons per hectare in six year-old plants).

The fruit of other palm trees not belonging to the species Cocos nucifera are also consumed, among which stand out:

"Coco de mar" (Lodoicea maldivica): It is an enormous coconut of almost 25 kg of weight. Native to the archipelago of the Seychelles and other islands on the Madagascar coast. Its size triples that of an average coconut.

"Pijiguao’ (Bactris gasipaes): It has a radius of 6 cm approximately and it gathers in clusters of 100 fruits and 10 kg of weight. Its importance lies in its starch content.

"Corozo corojó (Bactris minor): The palm of this variety reaches 30 m high. The leaves draw an elegant arc. It spreads all along the tropical strip of Panama to the western Indian coast, up to Colombia and Venezuela. This fruit does not exceed 4 cm long and is covered by a white skin. The juice is the best part of it.

"Palmira’ (Borassus flabellifer): Native to Asia and at present it is mainly cultivated in the north of Malaysia and India. It is a round, slightly flat-topped fruit, and it is quite easy to remove the skin that covers it. Inside the fruit there is a white pulp with three seeds and a little of water, depending on the maturation degree. From the crushed pulp, strained off through a linen cloth, we obtain a delicious drink.

"Salaca’ (Salacca edulis): Original from the south-east of Asia and cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The palm rises up to 5 m from the ground and has a large crown formed by branches that reach up to 7 m long. The fruit is rounded or oval and the size of a large fig. The scale-like skin resembles a tile roof, it is hard and thin at the same time and of a white or dark reddish tone, according to the variety. The pulp has a bittersweet taste and is slightly astringent, specially if it is slightly unripe. It is divided in three "segments’ covered by a membrane of waxy texture, inside which is a brown and oval bone or seed which is not edible. The ripe fruit is kept for few days in a fresh place, although if they are left soaking with the rind in water with salt and sugar, they will last for weeks.

The varieties of coconut from the palm Cocos nucifera are:

"Coconut from the Indies" (Cocos nucifera): It is the most well-known coco palm fruit (the so-called coconut palm). It comes from the tropical Melanesia, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. At present, the coconut palm has become one of the main crops in the tropical countries. The coconut weighs around 2.5 kg and in fact it is a fruit clustered in drupes.

"King coconut" (Cocos nucifera var. aurantiaca): This golden or orange variety is sometimes called "coconut for drinking" because it contains a much more aromatic and refreshing milk than normal coconuts. However, the pulp is scarce. The rind is not so hard and it is easily opened. The palm reaches 30 m high and has long branches. The trunk is very elastic and the golden fruit hangs in great clusters of approximately 20 nuts or coconuts. A tree bears around 60 coconuts a year. It is highly appreciated for its "milk’, the name given to the water found inside coconuts.
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