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The Tree of Life


The Tree of Life

First appearing around 80 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period, the exotic coconut palm tree is known to many cultures as “The Tree of Life”. Throughout history it has provided almost everything needed to live, on land or islands, where the coconut palm survives.

When ripe coconuts, giant seed fruits, fall from the tree to the ground, or roll into the water and travel on ocean currents to wash up on new shores, they dry out in the sun and germinate where they land, if they happen to find a hospitable patch of ground, and the rainfall is sufficient. Coconut trees can grow up to 100 feet and continue to yield coconuts for up to a century, bearing around 60 coconuts every 45 days.

Polynesians carried treasured coconuts for water and food to sustain them on their sea faring and inter island journeys, and for planting when they reached new land as the successful growth of coconut palms meant the sustainability of life.

All cultures with these beautiful swaying trees had their traditional uses for it, and many have carried on the ancient traditions. Today, the coconut is a large part of the economy in some countries such as India and the Philippines, with the products harvested from the coconut tree sold worldwide.

The fronds of the coconut tree provided shelter, and in some parts of the world still do, as well as provide the material for making mats, fans, brooms, hats and baskets.

Dried, the fronds can be burned to ash and harvested for lime. Young leaves of the coconut palm were used by some cultures to treat bone fractures, and this practice is still used today by traditional healers.

The stiff midribs of the fronds can be used to make cooking skewers, for kindling, or bound into bundles to make brooms and brushes.

The trunks of the coconut tree provided hardy, durable, and salt resistant wood used to build small bridges and houses and were hollowed out to make drums, containers, and small canoes.

The wood is also used to make tables, benches, carvings, decorations, and picture frames and paper pulp can also be extracted from the trunk and other woody parts of the tree.

The roots of this versatile tree can be used as a dye, a mouthwash, as well as medicine for dysentery. A frayed out root was also used as a toothbrush.

The husk of the coconut “Coir” is used to make ropes, mats, brushes, and fuel. Dried half coconut shells, with their husks, are used to buff wooden floors to make them clean and shiny, and the fresh inner coconut husk can be rubbed on the lens of snorkeling goggles to prevent fogging while diving.

A tea made from the husk fiber is widely used to treat inflammatory disorders, and beekeepers in India use the non-toxic coir in their bee smokers.

Coconut shells are made into bowls, ladles, fashion accessories, buttons, musical instruments, birdhouses and feeders, potting compost, planting containers, and sponges.

The dried calyx of the coconut is used as fuel.

Activated carbon (charcoal) manufactured from burned coconut shells, is considered superior to those obtained from other sources, as it is highly effective at absorbing gas, vapors and impurities.

“Hearts of Palm” is considered a rare delicacy and even more so as the act of harvesting the Apical Bud on the wild tree could contribute to its dying. It is fortunate that today domesticated palms are now being farmed specifically for the purpose of obtaining the delicacy ensuring the survival of the wild coconut palm.

The bud of the coconut tree contains a fermented juice “coconut inflorescence”, that is used as a healthy fresh beverage and for producing alcoholic beverages, vinegar, and sugar. This beneficial juice is also used as a source of yeast for making bread.

The meat of the coconut, found inside the shell, is used fresh or dried for cooking and is also used to obtain flour, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Coconut oil was, and still is in some countries, used for fuel and cooking and rubbed into the skin and hair as a moisturizer or as a healing balm for skin conditions and bites.

In many cultures palms are symbols for peace and fertility and used in prayers honoring one’s past ancestors, for receiving bountiful catches of fish, and for auspiciousness – or to be favored by fortune. In India, where the average person consumes around 30 coconuts per month, whenever a sacred ceremony is performed a coconut must grace the occasion.

Picking and harvesting coconuts is largely dependent upon trained climbers who climb as high as 100 feet, and know which nuts to harvest and for what purpose. Most times climbers, without safety gear, and a strap of palm frond tied around the ankles, climb to the nuts in a matter of seconds, and regrettably, with one misstep, could fall to the ground.

To become aware of this “Tree of Life” is to be favored by fortune, as this remarkable tree also provides two of natures greatest gifts – coconut water and coconut oil. To learn more about these living high-energy foods continue reading about their remarkable properties and how they contribute to our health and well-being.