Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Coconut palm Swahili: Mnazi.

+ Tree Species

Cocos nucifera

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

One of the world's most useful trees, of great economic importance. It grows naturally at sea level in light sandy soils. The only species of Cocos, its origins are uncertain but thought to be in the western Pacific. Now grown throughout the tropics, the tree is called "green gold" in South India. In Uganda, coconut is not common but can grow well near Lake Victoria and at Butiaba on Lake Albert, requiring plenty of rain and sun. In Kampala, Cocos nucifera can be found along colville street, Entebbe road, Kyadondo road, Kimathi avenue, within Sheraton gardens, Mukubira zone residences among others.

+ Description

A palm with a slender trunk up to 20 m in Uganda, often curved, the trunk swollen at the base where typical "stem roots" can be seen. The unbranched stem is topped by a rosette of leaves that can each be 4.5 - 6 meters long. The cylindrical stem can be 40cm in diameter, though up to 60cm at the base.

BARK: grey-brown, smooth with regular leaf-scar rings.

LEAVES: 20-30 leaves top the single trunk, pinnate, each taking a month to grow 2.5-5.0 m long, with many long narrow sharp-pointed leaflets arising from a stiff midrib.

FLOWERS: arise from a branched stalk beside leaves, orange-yellow, very many scented male flowers at the tip and fewer female flowers at the base, 12-20 together.

FRUIT: large and oval, about 30 cm long, a green outer covering turning yellow, 3 layers within and liquid "coconut milk" in the center, becoming sweet as the fruit (a drupe) matures. The seed embryo lies on the inside layer with a massive food store of thick white albumen—the kernel or "coconut meat".

+ Uses

Edible: seed can be eaten raw or cooked, and often dried then shredded to be used as a flavoring in cakes, curries etc., an edible oil can be extracted from the seed, the liquid inside unripe fruits is a delicious refreshing drink, inflorescences is cooked and used as a vegetable, a sugary sap can be obtained from the stalk of the inflorescence and can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage, the roots are roasted and used as a coffee substitute, the pith of the stem is made into a bread, added to soups or pickled. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Cocos+nucifera

Medicine: seed oil, coconut milk, juice from a green coconut, juice from the fruit, roots, juice from the midrib at the lower base of the leaf, a poultice made from the apical bud, the coconut. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Cocos+nucifera

Agroforestry: the fiber around the seeds is widely used in making peat-free composts where it replaces the peat, the burnt husks form a useful sort of potash that is used to fertilize the trees, the husks also make valuable mulch for moisture conservation in the dry season and help to suppress weeds, provides fodder (copra meal and coconut cake) to animals.

An oil obtained from the seed is used in making goods such as soaps, detergents, cosmetics, candles, pharmaceuticals etc and to a lesser extent as a lubricant.

The oil can be used as a substitute for diesel oils, for electric generating plants and motor vehicles.

The leaves are interwoven into mats, baskets etc and used as a roofing or thatching material for walls of huts.

The midribs of the leaflets are used for brooms.

The root may be used as a toothbrush.Mat fiber is used in making mats, bristle fiber is used for brush making and mattress fiber is used in stuffing mattresses and in upholstery.

The fiber can also be used for making ropes and cordage.

The hard, woody shell surrounding the seed can be used as cups, bowls, in craft work, buttons, combs, bangles, musical instruments, etc.

Coconut-shell flour is used as a filler in the thermoplastic industry and as an abrasive for cleaning machinery.

Good quality charcoal is made from the shell of the seed. Coconut-shell charcoal may be processed further into activated carbon that has many industrial applications, including general water purification, crystalline sugar preparation and gold purification.

The outer portion of the coconut stem is a widely used source of timber that can be used for load-bearing structures in buildings, such as frames, floors and trusses. It can also be used for high quality furniture and parquet flooring.

Coconut trunks can be used for poles, as they have great strength and flexibility.

An ornamental tree.

+ Propagation

Seeds, tissue culture.

+ Management

The trees are planted at spacing of about 7 x 7 m-10 x 10 m. In good conditions at sea level the tree should bear its first crop in 7-8 years, but fruit in Uganda are poor.

+ Remarks

Planting should be encouraged around Lake Victoria and in the Western Rift Valley as back-yard trees or with other crops. In the Far East they say "If you can count the hairs on your head then you can count all the uses of the coconut palm". The outer husks, the "coir" of commerce, can be used for ropes, etc. The hard shell makes a special charcoal used in jet aircraft. Dried kernel is "copra" from which coconut oil and dried coconut are made. When flowering, the shoot can be tapped to make palm wine or toddy, which is also used as yeast for bread making. It is one of the most useful plants for humans, providing a wide range of foods and other commodities.

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