Coconut tree and the only living species of the genus Cocos
. The term "coconut" (or the archaic "cocoanut") can refer to the whole coconut palm, the seed, or the, which botanically is a drupe, not a nut. The name comes from the old Portuhuese word coco, meaning "head" or "skull", after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. They are ubiquitous in coastal tropical regions and are a cultural icon of the tropics.
The Coconut tree is a member of the palm family. It is the only species in the Genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm. The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously, with female flowers producing seeds. Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some dwarf varieties are self-pollinating. The origin of this plant are the subject of controversy with some authorities claiming it is native to southeast Asia, while others claim its origin is in northwestern South America. Fossil records from New Zealand indicate that small, coconut-like plants grew there as far back 15 million years ago. Even older fossils have been uncovered in Rajasthan & Maharashtra, India.
The coconut is widely used in traditional medicine, where it is ascribed a very wide range of applications. The seed oil is cytotoxic, emetic, emollient, hypotensive and purgative. The oil is rubbed onto stiff joints. It is also used to treat rheumatism and back pains or as an ointment to maintain smooth, soft skin. Mixed with turmeric, it is used to treat sick new born infants and women who have just given birth. To place a baby from a breech to a normal position in the mother’s womb, the abdomen is massaged with coconut oil. Coconut milk is diuretic. It is used to treat fish poisoning. The juice from a green coconut is given to women who have difficult pregnancies.
Juice from the fruit is taken to treat kidney problems.