Origin

Comparatively tiny is known about the origin and early circulation of the coconut palm, probably due to the fact that it to be so widely spread out throughout the tropical areas of the world so numerous years ago. However, the coconut palm is believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago or the southern Pacific.

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Distribution

The coconut is extensive throughout the tropics, typically being uncovered along sandy shorelines. This tree has actually been spread largely by man, but additionally by natural means. The fruit deserve to float for lengthy distances and also still germinate to type new tree after being washed ashore.

Commercial plantings room confined come the tropical lowlands, yet the tree will likewise fruit in a few warmer subtropical areas. In Florida the coconut palm is successfully grown native Stuart on the east coast and also Punta Gorda ~ above the west coast, south to key West.


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figure 1. A Maypan coconut palm, farming in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in 2008.

Importance

The coconut is the most extensively grown and also used seed in the world and also the most vital palm. That is an important commercial chop in numerous tropical countries, contributing significantly to their economies. Copra is the chief product of the coconut. Copra is the source of coconut oil, which is used for making soap, shampoo, cosmetics, food preparation oils, and also margarine. Lot of the fruit is consumed locally for food.

The coconut palm, more than any kind of other plant, provides a tropical impact to the Florida landscape. While this palm is very valued as an ornamental, that is also grown on a restricted commercial basis in Florida for cacao frio, a update drink do from the water inside environment-friendly coconuts.

Description

Tree. This large, single-trunked palm has a smooth, columnar trunk through a light grayish-brown color; the stems is topped with a terminal crown the leaves. Tall varieties may achieve a elevation of 80–100 feet (24–31 m), while dwarf ranges are shorter in stature. The trunk is slender and also often swollen at the base. The tribe is typically curved or leaning, yet is erect in part cultivars.

Leaves. The pinnate leaves are feather-shaped, as much as 18 feet (5.5 m) long and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide. The sheet stalks are 3–5 feet (0.9–1.5 m) in length and also spineless.

Flowers. Male and female flowers are borne ~ above the very same inflorescence. The inflorescences arise from canoe-shaped sheaths among the leaves and may be 2–3 feet (0.6–0.9 m) long and also have 10–50 branchlets. Male flowers are small, light yellow, and also are found at the ends of the branchlets. Female flower are larger than male flowers, irradiate yellow in color, and are uncovered towards the base of the branchlets. Coconut palms begin to flower at about 4–6 year of age.

Fruit. About ovoid, up to 15 customs (38 cm) long and also 12 customs (30 cm) wide, composed of a thick, fibrous husk neighboring a rather spherical nut v a hard, brittle, hairy shell. The nut is 6–8 inch (15–20 cm) in diameter and 10–12 inch (25–30 cm) long. Three sunken feet of softer tissue—called "eyes"—are at one end of the nut.

Inside the covering is a thin, white, fleshy layer, around one customs thick at maturity. This great is well-known as the "meat" or copra. The interior of the seed is hollow, yet partially filled v a watery liquid dubbed "coconut milk". The meat is soft and jelly-like when immature, but it becomes firm in ~ maturity. Coconut milk is plentiful in unripe fruits, but the coconut milk is gradually soaked up as ripening proceeds. The fruit are eco-friendly at first, transforming brownish together they mature. Yellow-fruit varieties adjust from yellow come brown together they mature.

Production

The coconut palm beginning fruiting 6–10 years after the particle germinates and reaches complete production at 15–20 years of age. The tree proceeds to fruit till it is around 80 years old, through an annual production the 50–200 fruits per tree, depending upon cultivar and climate. The fruits require about a year to develop and also are generally created regularly throughout the year.

Cultivars

Several cultivars that coconut palms room grown in Florida (Table 1). This cultivars different in your petiole and also fruit color, straightness (or crookedness) the the trunk, leaflet and leaf width, growth rates, existence or absence of a swollen trunk base or bole, adaptability come Florida"s soil conditions, and resistance to lethal yellowing an illness (LY).

The "Jamaican Tall" (also called "Atlantic Tall") is a rapid-growing coconut palm selection with a swollen stems base and crooked trunk. This variety is well adapted to Florida. The "Malayan Dwarf" cultivar has actually three color forms the differ in the shade of the immature fruits and also petioles (green, yellow, or gold). This cultivar is smaller and also slower-growing than the "Jamaican Tall". Additionally, the "Malayan Dwarf" has actually a narrow, straight, non-swollen trunk. The "Panama Tall" (also dubbed "Pacific Tall") is a large, robust palm with a large-diameter trunk the is crooked and also swollen. The "Panama Tall" has actually a rapid growth rate and also either eco-friendly or bronze-colored fruits and petioles. The "Maypan" is a hybrid between the "Malayan Dwarf" and the "Panama Tall" and also resembles the "Jamaican Tall" in appearance.

The "Malayan Dwarf" cultivar and the hybrid "Maypan" have actually been extensively planted in Florida due to the fact that of your reported resistance to LY, a fatal condition of coconut palms in Florida and also in parts of the Caribbean region. (For much more on this disease, watch gimpppa.org publication PP222, https://gimpppa.org/pp146.) back these arrays were originally believed to be highly resistant come LY, permanent trials in Florida have actually revealed the "Malayan Dwarf" and "Maypan" are just slightly less susceptible come LY than the "Jamaican Talls" these arrays were intended to replace.

One cultivar that has displayed some potential because that resistance to LY is the "Fiji Dwarf" (Niu Leka), although more extensive testing is required to substantiate the promising results of research studies done in Florida during the 1980s and also 1990s. The "Fiji Dwarf" is slow-moving growing and has an extremely broad leaves and leaflets. This selection can have actually either copper or green fruits and also petioles and has a an extremely thick, crooked trunk. The "Fiji Dwarf" is well adapted to Florida soils. Unfortunately, uneven "Fiji Dwarf" trees room isolated (>100 ft or so) from various other coconut palm cultivars, to avoid pollination through non-"Fiji Dwarf" tree the result seeds create a great percentage of tall, off-type palms that are known to be at risk to LY.

Propagation

Coconut Palm propagation is entirely from seed—the coconuts, i beg your pardon are all set for planting if they produce an audible "sloshing" sound as soon as shaken. The nuts are inserted on your sides and buried through sand or mulch to about one-half the thickness the the nut. They might be planted in closely spaced rows in well drained seedbeds, or the nuts may be planted straight into big pots. Germination is finest under high temperature (90°F–100°F). ~ above germination, the shoot and root emerge through the side or one finish of the nut. Young palms, around 6 month old, deserve to be transplanted straight into the field or deserve to be get an impression in pots in the nursery because that a couple of more years.

Climate and Soils

The coconut palm is commonly found follow me tropical, sandy shorelines since it can tolerate brackish soils and salt spray. However, salt is not forced for the expansion of healthy and balanced coconut palms, which deserve to be efficiently grown well inland. Coconut palms prosper well in a wide selection of soil species and in a broad pH range, indigenous 5.0–8.0, noted the soils room well drained. Successful growth requires a minimum mean temperature of 72°F and also an yearly rainfall of 30–50 inches or more. Coconut palms room not perfect for areas that frequently experience freezing temperatures. Coconut palms require full sunlight and also are tolerant to wind and to short-term flooding.

Planting and Spacing

Coconut palms might be planted at any kind of time the the year, yet the warm, rainy summer month are best for planting this palms. They deserve to be properly transplanted in ~ any duration in your growth, provided they are effectively handled. Preplanting soil preparation depends upon soil kind and depth that the water table. In low-lying areas, beds several feet high and vast should be created to stop waterlogging the the root zone during wet periods. In some areas a hardpan in the floor profile might need to be damaged up and mixed v topsoil before planting. For commercial plantings in the rocky calcareous soils of Miami-Dade County, rock plowing to a depth of 6–8 customs (15–20 cm) and also trenching around 16–24 customs (41–60 cm) wide and 18–24 customs (45–60 cm) deep is recommended. Because that landscape planting, feet 2–3 ft in diameter and also 1–2 ft deep must be prepared. Prior to digging in landscapes, contact your regional utilities to protect against disrupting water, cable and/or electrical lines.

Container-grown palms have to be planted such the the bottom of the stem and also top of the root system are about 1 inch below the surface of the soil. Field-grown palms must be planted in ~ the same level in ~ which castle were formerly grown. The new tree need to be watered automatically after planting and frequently thereafter until the tree is well established. Three to 4 inches, but no more, that mulch applied to the soil surface about the tree will aid retain soil moisture and also restrict weed growth. Commercially, the trees room planted at spacings that 18–30 feet (5.5–9.1 m) apart. In house gardens, coconut palms must be planted whereby they will receive complete sun and also not it is in crowded. At least 1 customs of water need to be gave weekly through rainfall or by irrigation, especially throughout the first year adhering to transplanting.

Environmental Stresses

Drought: Coconut palms are tolerant the dry soil conditions. However, for optimum fruit production and quality, continuous irrigation is recommended throughout dry periods.

Flooding: Coconut palms space tolerant the waterlogged or flooded soil problems for a couple of days. However, trees may decrease and die as soon as exposed to lengthy flooding or waterlogged soils.

Cold temperatures: Coconut palms will certainly be injured and also may be eliminated by temperatures below 32°F (0°C) and also may display chilling injury symptom of leaflet necrosis in ~ temperatures together high as 40°F (5°C). Prolonged exposure to non-freezing temperatures in the short to mid 30s°F can result in irreversible trunk damage and also even death of the palm. More severe freezes have the right to also an outcome in fatality of the bud. Research has shown that the severity that cold injury is greatly decreased for this palms when they have been correctly fertilized. (For additional information around cold damage on palms, see gimpppa.org publishing MG318, https://gimpppa.org/mg318.)

Wind: Coconut palms are rather tolerant of publicly sites and generally endure hurricane-force winds. The most common damage native hurricane winds is ns of leaves and toppling over. If uprooted palms space righted promptly and also adequately watered, survive of this palms is usually rather good.

Salt: Coconut palms are tolerant of saline water and soils, and salt spray.

Lightning: Lightning sometimes strikes tall coconut palms. Symptom of lightning strikes incorporate sudden fallen of the canopy and also bleeding exit holes in the bottom four feet the the trunk.

Nutritional Problems and also Fertilization

Coconut palms in the landscape are susceptible to number of nutritional deficiencies. Nitrogen (N) deficiency shows up as a uniform yellowing that the earliest leaves however typically affect the whole canopy. Growth rate will be high solution reduced. (For an ext on N deficiency in palms, view gimpppa.org publication ENH1016, https://gimpppa.org/ep268.)

Potassium (K) deficiency is more than likely the most widespread and also important deficiency that coconut palms throughout the world. Beforehand symptoms occur an initial on the earliest leaves together translucent yellow-orange or necrotic spotting. Necrosis that the leaflet margins, adhered to by leaflet pointer necrosis will additionally become apparent. Symptoms boost in severity in the direction of the guideline of the leaf. In severe instances the trunk will begin to taper in diameter ("pencil-pointing"), and new leaves will arise chlorotic, short, and frizzled in appearance. Fatality often follows if immediate treatment is no provided. The most reliable treatment because that K deficiency is sulfur-coated potassium sulfate, broadcasted under the canopy in ~ a price of 1.5 lbs/100 sq. Ft. That canopy area 4 times per year. Addition of 1/3 as lot magnesium (Mg) at the exact same time will stop a Mg deficiency from following treatment for K deficiency. (For an ext on K defiency in palms, see gimpppa.org publishing ENH1017, https://gimpppa.org/ep269.)

Magnesium deficiency appears as broad, yellow bands follow me the external edges the the oldest leaves in the canopy. The facility of the influenced leaves will stay distinctly environment-friendly with this deficiency. That is normally treated through magnesium sulfate, best in managed release form to mitigate leaching losses. (For more on magnesium defiency in palms, view gimpppa.org publishing ENH1014, https://gimpppa.org/ep266.)

Manganese (Mn) deficiency sometimes occurs on coconut palms, an especially in the spring months adhering to a cold winter. Symptoms take place on the newest leaves, which emerge greatly decreased in size. These leaves will frequently exhibit a singed appearance follow me the edges. Manganese deficiency can likewise be resulted in by fertilization or by floor amendment with composted sewage sludges. Back Mn deficiency caused by cool soil temperatures is commonly a short-lived problem, Mn deficiency resulted in by composted sewer sludges deserve to be deadly if manganese sulfate is no promptly and regularly applied. Because that this reason, composted sewage sludges must not be supplied on any type of ornamental tree that are susceptible come Mn deficiency. (For much more on Mn defiency in palms, check out gimpppa.org publication ENH1015, https://gimpppa.org/ep267.)

Boron (B) deficiency periodically occurs ~ above coconut palms, particularly during merganser weather, i beg your pardon leaches B v sandy soils. Expanded periods of dry weather, and high floor pH, can also contribute to B deficiency. Symptoms encompass premature fruit drop and also tip dieback on new leaves. Periodically a sequential pattern of triangles will appear within a single new leaf together the palm alternately experiences B deficiency and also sufficiency during leaf development. Chronically boron-deficient palms regularly exhibit one or much more incompletely opened up spear leaves. Boron deficiency deserve to be treated through sodium borates (Solubor or borax) or boric acid. (For an ext on B defiency in palms, check out gimpppa.org publishing ENH1012, https://gimpppa.org/ep264.)

To prevent nutritional deficiencies from arising or to exactly mild deficiencies, constant maintenance fertilization with a "palm special" fertilizer is recommended. These fertilizers should have an analysis of around 8N-2P2O5-12K2O-4Mg. The fertilizer should likewise have all of their N, K, and also Mg in a controlled-release kind to prevent rapid leaching of this nutrients v the soil. Additionally, the fertilizers need to contain about 1%–2% Fe and also Mn, plus trace quantities of Zn, Cu, and B. (For much more on fertilization the palms in Florida, view gimpppa.org publication ENH1009, https://gimpppa.org/ep261.)

The most effective means to apply these fertilizers is with a rotary spreader, spanning the entire soil area beneath the canopy the the palm (usually about 450–500 sq. Ft.) A rate of 1.5 lb of palm distinct fertilizer every 100 sq. Ft. That canopy area every three months or 1 lb/100 sq. Ft. Every 2 months is ideal. In areas of short rainfall or in areas having soils v high cation exchange capacities, rates and also application frequencies can be reduced.

Diseases

Lethal yellowing is the many important condition of coconut in Florida. Since LY was uncovered in vital West an ext than 200 years ago, this an illness has crept northward, killing numerous thousands the palm trees and endangering virtually all of the high coconut palms in Florida. Lethal yellowing is led to by a small organism dubbed a phytoplasma, i m sorry is visible just with the aid of one electron microscope. Early on symptoms the LY room premature dropping the coconuts and blackening of flower stalks. The palm leaves then rotate yellow, start with the reduced leaves and progressing come the crown, i m sorry dies and eventually topples from the tree. The tree usually dies within 6 months after exhibiting the very first symptoms of LY. (For more on this disease, watch gimpppa.org publishing PP222, https://gimpppa.org/pp146.)

Leaves the Malayan Dwarf coconuts carry out not show the common yellowing symptoms, however instead come to be wilted and turn brown prior to the bud ultimately dies. Injection of an antibiotic (oxytetracycline) may an outcome in remission of symptom within 4 weeks, but additional applications at four-month intervals are compelled to save the tree alive. Antibiotic injection is best when supplied on a preventive basis as soon as LY is active in the area. Roguing and destruction the the infected palms and replacement of those palms v non-susceptible palm species is recommended.

Bud rot, caused by the fungus Phytophthora palmivora Butler, is discovered in all locations where the coconut palm is grown. Early symptoms—found top top young, emerging leaves—are brown, sunken spots, yellowing, and/or withering. The leaves turn a irradiate grayish brown, coming to be darker brown together they collapse in ~ the base. The epidemic spreads inward come the bud and also outward to surrounding leaves, which turn yellow and fall. Young nuts fail come develop, and also they fall. However, nuts that are well formed prior to infection proceed to mature. A disagreeable odor emanates native the disk bud. The older pipeline in the canopy of an infected tree commonly remain healthy looking because that up to six months following fatality of the bud.

Both juvenile and adult trees have the right to be affected. Disease development most typically occurs after durations of heavy rains and also is widespread in poorly drained sites. Once symptoms come to be visible, therapy is hardly ever successful. This an illness can be prevented by periodic foliar sprays through fosetyl-Al (Aliette) or other assets containing phosphorous acid or phosphites. Palms showing advanced symptoms of bud rot should be removed and destroyed since these plants may serve together a source of inoculum. (For more on bud rots, watch gimpppa.org publishing PP220, https://gimpppa.org/pp144.)

Thielaviopsis stems rot is a lethal fungal disease that causes one-sided tribe rot and also ultimately, fallen of the trunk or crown. This condition requires a wound in soft tribe tissue; thus, the condition is most typically seen in freshly transplanted coconut palms. Over there is no therapy for this disease, and it is ideal prevented by avoiding trunk wounds, specifically in the upper fifty percent of the trunk. (For an ext on this disease, see gimpppa.org publication PP219, https://gimpppa.org/pp143.)

Pests

A variety of pests—including number of kinds of scale, palm aphid, spider mites, mealybugs, palm weevils, and caterpillars—are occasionally found, yet usually carry out not require control measures. Coconut scale sometimes may reason extensive damage, and also heavy infestations must be controlled by appropriate measures. Nuts reflecting constriction and/or a rough, corky surface are infested with coconut mites. Palm sheet skeletonizers mine the leaflets, leave behind dead, translucent patches of leaf tissue and the insect"s brown frass tubes on the undersides the the leaves. Current manage recommendations may be derived from your local UF/gimpppa.org extension agent.

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Harvesting

Harvesting of coconuts wake up throughout the year. The moment from fruit set to complete maturity is around 12 months. The fruit need to be harvested totally ripe because that copra and also dehydrated coconut. Drinking nuts must be picked earlier, at about seven months. The nuts may be harvested by experienced climbers or might be cut from the ground, using a knife attached come a long pole. Usage of climb spikes is not recommended due to the fact that the wounds resulted in by the spikes are permanent and may carry out entry sites for diseases, such as Thielaviopsis trunk rot.

Uses

There room literally thousands of uses because that coconuts and also their products. The meat the immature coconuts have the right to be eaten with a spoon or it is in scooped out and also made right into ice cream. Coconut milk, abundant in unripe nuts, is a refreshing and also nutritious drink. The meat in maturation coconuts is firm and also can be consumed fresh or may be provided for do shredded coconut. The most important financial product that the coconut is obtained by dry the meat into copra, i beg your pardon is pressed to produce coconut oil, mainly used in making soap and also cosmetics. Coconut oil is likewise used because that cooking and making margarine. The rice peel fiber is combed out and also sold together coir, a product for making rope and coconut matting. Coir dust is wonderful substitute for peat moss in potting soils. The coconut palm trunks might be provided for structure timbers and also the leaves supplied for house thatching. The coconut palm has tiny commercial prominence in Florida but is very valued as an ornamental. The coconut palm gives a tropical impact to the Florida landscape and also provides fruit for home use.