The Coconut / Coconut Palm / Cocos Nucifera
This is the most economically important palm tree in the world. The coconut fruit contains a milk that is rich in protein, vitamins, and mineral salts (sodium and potassium). Its pulp is used to make fat, its fiber is used for making ropes and rugs, and its shell is used in craft. In medicinal use it has properties to reduce cholesterol, fight dehydration, nausea and water retention in the body. It grows in all tropical regions around the world.
The Coconut Flower
Coir, the fibrous husk of the coconut, is used in a large number of ways. There are two varieties of coir. Brown coir is harvested from fully ripened coconuts. It is thick, strong and has high abrasion resistance. It is typically used in mats, brushes and sacking. White coir fibres are harvested from the coconuts before they are ripe. These fibres are white or light brown in color and are smoother and finer, but also weaker. They are generally spun to make yarn that is used in mats or rope.
Coir fibres are found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. The individual fibre cells are narrow and hollow, with thick walls made of cellulose. They are pale when immature but later become hardened and yellowed as a layer of lignin is deposited on their walls. There are two varieties of coir. Brown coir is harvested from fully ripened coconuts. It is thick, strong and has high abrasion resistance. It is typically used in mats, brushes and sacking. Mature brown coir fibres contain more lignin and less cellulose than fibres such as flax and cotton and so are stronger but less flexible. They are made up of small threads, each about 1 mm long and 10 to 20 micrometres in diameter. White coir fibres are harvested from the coconuts before they are ripe. These fibres are white or light brown in color and are smoother and finer, but also weaker. They are generally spun to make yarn that is used in mats or rope.
Coconut milk is made by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds; it has a fat content of 17%. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate from the milk. The milk is used to produce virgin coconut oil by controlled heating and removing the oil fraction.
Coconut meat is the flesh of the coconut fruit. There are two types of coconut meat: young or “green” coconuts have very soft meat which is almost gelatinous in texture, soft enough to easily scoop out of the fruit with a spoon. This type is sometimes called coconut jelly, and it is classically served as a snack. Mature coconuts have firmer white, dry, meat. In Brazil, coconut meat is used in a variety of delicious dishes; one of my favorites is called "cocada," a sweet that can be bought from stands throughout the streets of Bahia.
In Brazil, coconut shells are used as bowls and in the manufacture of various crafts products, including buttons and beads like the ones I use in my jewelry.
Here are some of my designs using the coconut shell: