Towering palms of coconut strewn throughout the archipelago of Maldives offer not only a shady spot underneath it, but a divine and ambrosial drink rich in potassium, and low in calories. The iconic palm was and is held in highest regard in the Maldives as a bounteous gift of god.
the large oval brown seed of a tropical palm, consisting of a hard woody husk surrounded by fibre, lined with edible white flesh and containing a clear liquid.
The coconut palm (Coco Nucifera) found in abundance in the tropics require plenty of sunshine, rain and sandy soil. And where better to find it all than in the Maldives. The weather conditions in the Maldives facilitate adequate sunshine and rain for the palms to thrive. Rarely are the coconut palms found in colder climates and if they do manage to survive the cooler temperatures it is highly unlikely that they will bear fruit. Yes, the coconut is a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Technically a drupe, the coconut is said to have been mentioned in texts dating as far back as 545 AD.
The hallmark welcome drink of essentially all tropical islands, the young coconut served straight from the fibrous vessel voluminous with tender coconut flesh offer a hydrating and nutritious drink fit for the kings. Moreover, fresh coconut milk squeezed of scraped coconut shavings are used in the creation of zestful tropical cocktails such as the Piña Colada, Coquito, and the Bushwacker.
The reason behind the coconut palm being considered a bounteous gift of god and earning the name of ‘the national tree’ and a spot in the center of the Maldives’ coat of arms is far from the fact of it being just an ingredient in heavenly cocktails. Legend has it that islands were sold during the time of sultans not by the size of the land or by how vibrant and full of life the encompassing house reef is, but by the number of coconut palms that spread their roots on the islets. Leaders were made not by their ability to guide citizens, but by the number of coconut palms they owned. This of course is not the case in modern day Maldives. Although the usage of certain parts have long been forgotten due to advances in our ways of life, the palm is to this day as useful as it ever was.
The coconut flesh is used in processing coconut milk, coconut flour and is used as a healthy snack together with dried tuna in the Maldives. Moreover, the coconut oil has been rediscovered as a miracle oil that does wonders in cooking, applied on hair and for the skin. The coconut husk is used for making coir rope while the coconut shells are used in the Maldives as an alternative to burning charcoal during outdoor barbecues.
Although debated, it is widely believed that the coconut palms originated in India and Indonesia with widespread dispersing via ocean currents to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Maldives, Taiwan, and Brazil to name a few. Thick fibrous, and buoyant coconuts travel thousands of miles at sea (all the while protecting the seed from the salty water) as means of germinating throughout the tropics.