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Coconut tree UPSC NOTE

 Coconut tree – basic details

  • The coconut tree, also scientifically known as Cocos nucifera.

  • It is a member of the palm tree family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus Cocos. 

  • It's a ubiquitous sight in coastal tropical regions and is considered a cultural icon of the tropics.

  • Size: They are large palms, growing up to 30 meters (100 feet) tall.

  • Leaves: They have pinnate leaves that are 4–6 meters (13–20 ft) long, with individual leaflets 60–90 centimeters (2–3 ft) long. 

  • Old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth.

  • Fruit: The coconut fruit (technically a drupe, not a true nut) is ovoid or ellipsoid in shape, 300–450 mm (12–18 inches) long and 150–200 mm (6–8 inches) in diameter. 

  • A mature coconut tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year, but more often yields less than 30.

  • Coconut trees are known for their versatility.

  • Food: The coconut fruit provides a nutritious source of food. 

  • The coconut meat can be eaten fresh or dried, and the coconut milk is a popular ingredient in many cuisines.

  • Oil: Coconut oil is extracted from the dried kernel of the coconut and has a variety of uses, including cooking, hair care, and skincare.

  • Building materials: The wood of the coconut palm can be used for construction purposes, and the leaves can be used for thatch roofing.

  • Other uses: Coconut shells can be used to make bowls, cups, and other utensils

  • The fibers from the coconut husk can be used to make rope and mats.

  • Overall, the coconut tree is a valuable resource that provides food, oil, building materials, and other useful products.

Its origins, uses, and cultural significance in India

  • The coconut tree is deeply woven into the fabric of Indian life

Origins:

  • The exact origin of the coconut palm is a topic of discussion. There are two main schools of thought:

  • Southeast Asian Origin: Genetic evidence suggests coconut palms were first domesticated in Island Southeast Asia and spread by seafaring people during the Neolithic era. 

  • This theory aligns with the presence of coconut palms across the Indian Ocean.

  • Indian Origin: Ancient Indian texts like the Mahabharata and Ramayana mention coconuts, and some believe the coconut is native to India.

Uses in India:

  • The coconut palm is a veritable "tree of life" in India, offering a vast array of uses:

  • Food: Every part of the coconut is used in Indian cuisine. 

  • The fresh white kernel (flesh) is eaten raw or used in curries and sweets

  • Coconut milk adds a creamy texture to dishes, while coconut water is a refreshing drink

  • Even coconut oil is widely used for cooking.

  • Building Materials: The strong wood serves as a building material for houses and fences

  • The leaves are used for thatched roofs and mats.

  • Household Items: Coconut shells are fashioned into cups, bowls, and utensils

  • Coir fiber, extracted from the husk, is used to make ropes, mats, brushes, and even mattresses.

  • Cosmetics and Medicine: Coconut oil is a popular hair and skincare product. 

  • Traditionally, coconut water is considered to have medicinal properties.

Cultural Significance:

  • The coconut tree holds immense cultural significance in India:

  • Auspicious Symbol: Coconuts are considered symbols of prosperity and good luck

  • They are offered at religious ceremonies, weddings, and other auspicious occasions.

  • Religious Importance: In Hinduism, the coconut is associated with Lord Ganesha. 

  • Breaking a coconut before starting a puja (prayer) is a common practice.

  • Ayurveda: Coconut finds a place in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for its supposed healing properties.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Coconut tree UPSC NOTE
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