Curious Facts: Are Coconuts Fruit? The Answer Might Surprise You! | Kidadl


Curious Facts: Are Coconuts Fruit? The Answer Might Surprise You!

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Coconuts are an appetizing treat, especially on hot summer days or on beach vacations.

Coconut has always provided a sense of respite to anyone who consumes them. Not only that, but every part of a coconut is utilized in some way or another.

Despite having been consumed for centuries, no one can pinpoint exactly where they came from! Botanists have found that coconut was cultivated in two different locations: in the Indian Ocean basin and in the Pacific basin. These cultivations led to two types of coconut trees (also known as coconut palm or Cocos nucifera), specifically tall and dwarf coconut trees. Simultaneously, these trees resulted in two varieties of coconut population: niu kafa and niu vai.

The tall and slow-growing variety of coconut palm bears niu kafa. It is used for coconut oil production due to its abundant fibrous husk. The dwarf coconut palm is fast-growing and produces niu vai. Niu vai is the most common variety found in grocery stores due to its rich coconut water content.

Now we come down to the main question that has been circling your mind, is coconut a fruit? Or is coconut a nut? Keep scrolling, and let's find out! You should also check out these articles to learn whether burritos are Mexican and some Arc de Triomphe facts.

Are coconuts nuts or fruit?

The word 'coconut' has a Spanish origin. It is derived from the word 'coco', which means skull. Coconuts have three dents at the base of their shell that resembles eyes and mouth. Hence, the reason for such a name. Aptly classifying a coconut is both confusing and hard. They are neither nuts nor fruits. Though, technically, coconut is a fruit.

Scientifically, coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe. Drupes have a hard shell to protect the seed. Apricots and peaches are good examples of a drupe. All drupes have three layers called the exocarp, the mesocarp, and the endocarp.

In coconuts, the exocarp is the outer layer with a smooth texture. Usually, the color is green or light yellow. The second layer is called the mesocarp that is a thick fibrous husk. The last layer, the endocarp, has a woody texture and protects the seed. These layers protect a coconut during its journey across oceans.

In supermarkets, coconut is sold without this outer layer and is covered only with the endocarp.

Is coconut a versatile fruit?

Coconut has been around for ages, and humans throughout the centuries have used it either as a food crop or for industrial and ornamental purposes.

Coconut is a versatile fruit. It is used for the production of coconut milk, coconut oil, fiber, charcoal, musical instruments, and cocopeat. It has an important role in skincare products. Coconut water is a nutritious source of hydration. Artisans across the globe have used it for their craft. It is also an active ingredient in many world cuisines.

Even the DNA of coconut contains information about the prehistoric trade routes and colonization of America. You can say that the history of the coconut is integrated into the history of human civilization.

Fresh raw coconut with palm leaves.

Why is coconut called the 'tree of life'?

Coconut palms are found globally. In America, they dominate the tropical beaches of Hawaii, southern and central Florida, American Samoa, and more. However, they are not native to these places. Botanically, coconut genetics traces back to two distinct varieties. One came from the coasts of India, and the other came somewhere from southeast Asia.

Tracing back our history, it has been proved that coconuts have always been used for multiple purposes by humans. No part of a coconut goes to waste. That is why it has been called the 'tree of life'.

All coconuts are edible and can be eaten as food. However, people with severe nut allergies can have an allergic reaction to coconut. Even though coconuts are not a part of the nut family, the Food and Drug Administration has classed them under nut allergy.

Allergic reactions to eating coconuts are rare, though people can have allergies to coconut products. People with a nut allergy are likely to be allergic to eating coconut.

Is coconut a drupe?

Even though coconut contains the word nut, it cannot be classified as a nut. However, coconuts can be labeled as one-seeded fruit. Scientifically, they are classified as fibrous drupes.

Drupe is different than fruit and nut. A fruit is the seed-bearing product of a flowering plant or tree. Fruits are ripened ovaries. They are fleshy and sweet to taste. A nut has hard shells covering an edible kernel. Nuts have both fruits and seeds inside them, for example, walnuts and acorns.

A drupe is a mix of fruit and nut. Drupes also have a hard shell to protect the seed and sweet fruit inside. Drupes and nuts have several common characteristics.

The difference lies in the fact that drupes release their seed at maturity, but nuts don't. Nuts rely on agents like squirrels to bury them underground, and once the shell of a nut decays, a baby plant sprouts.

The lifecycle of a coconut ends when the seeds (coconut) fall from the tree. After several weeks have passed, the husk and shell naturally break apart, and new roots come out of the three holes (eyes) at the base of the coconut.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Curious facts: are coconuts fruit? The answer might surprise you', then why not take a look at 'How do ships float? Explore science facts that will make you wonder' or 'How do we see? Mind-blowing kids facts on how your vision works'?

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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