The Coconut Tree
The coconut, which is a kind of palm, is a very handsome tree. Its trunk rises straight up, sometimes as high as fifty feet, and is crowned with a circle of grand leaves, shaped like a feather, and sometimes as much as twenty feet long. It grows only in hot countries and does best on a sandy shore near the sea. It is very common on the coral islands in the Pacific Ocean, and the islands and shores of the Indian Ocean. Its fruit is the coconut-a very large nut with a hard woody shell and a white kernel.
The coconut palm is the most useful tree in the world, for its every part is good for something. First, take the nut. When the shell is broken, the hollow inside contains a milky-colored liquid, which is a refreshing and wholesome drink. The white kernel can be eaten as a food and is used for flavouring cakes and puddings. In the Pacific Islands, a great trade is carried on in “copra” which is the dried kernel of coconuts. This contains a lot of oil (coconut oil), which is used largely in making candles and soap. From the strong brown fibre that covers the hard shell of the nut, is manufactured “coir”, which is made into strong ropes and mats. The hard shell itself, when cut, is used as a cup or carved into an ornament.
The leaves are used for making roofs for houses and woven into mats and baskets.
And, finally, the wood is used for building and other purposes.