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The Coconut Palm In Florida



This large, single-trunked palm has a smooth, columnar trunk with a light grayish-brown color; the trunk is topped with a terminal crown of leaves. Tall varieties may attain a height of 80–100 feet (24–31 m), while dwarf varieties are shorter in stature. The trunk is slender and often swollen at the base. The trunk is typically curved or leaning, but is erect in some cultivars.

Use and Management

There are literally hundreds of uses for coconuts and their products. The meat of immature coconuts can be eaten with a spoon or be scooped out and made into ice cream. Coconut milk, abundant in unripe nuts, is a refreshing and nutritious drink. The meat in mature coconuts is firm and can be eaten fresh or may be used for making shredded coconut. The most important economic product of the coconut is obtained by drying the meat into copra, which is pressed to produce coconut oil, primarily used in making soap and cosmetics. Coconut oil is also used for cooking and making margarine. The husk fiber is combed out and sold as coir, a material for making rope and coconut matting. Coir dust is an excellent substitute for peat moss in potting soils. The coconut palm trunks may be used for building timbers and the leaves used for house thatching. The coconut palm has little commercial importance in Florida but is highly valued as an ornamental. The coconut palm gives a tropical effect to the Florida landscape and provides fruit for home use.

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