Description: This tree has a single, narrow, tall trunk with a cluster of very large leaves at the top. Each leaf may be over 6 meters (20 feet) long with over 100 pairs of leaflets.
Habitat and Distribution: Coconut palms are found throughout the tropics. They are most abundant near coastal regions.
Edible Parts: The nut is a valuable source of food. The milk of the young coconut is rich in sugar and vitamins and is an excellent source of liquid. The nut meat is also nutritious but is rich in oil. To preserve the meat, spread it in the sun until it is completely dry.
Other Uses: Use coconut oil to cook and to protect metal objects from corrosion. Also, use the oil to treat saltwater sores, sunburn, and dry skin. Use the oil in improvised torches. Use the tree trunk as building material and the leaves as thatch. Hollow out the large stump for use as a food container. The coconut husks are good flotation devices and the husk's fibers are used to weave ropes and other items. Use the gauzelike fibers at the leaf bases as strainers or use them to weave a bug net or to make a pad to use on wounds. The husk makes a good abrasive. Dried husk fiber is an excellent tinder. A smoldering husk helps to repel mosquitoes. Smoke caused by dripping coconut oil in a fire also repels mosquitoes. To render coconut oil, put the coconut meat in the sun, heat it over a slow fire, or boil it in a pot of water. Coconuts washed out to sea are a good source of fresh liquid for the sea survivor.
All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
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