Friday, October 19, 2018

History of coconut palm

Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) can be found throughout the tropics and in many islands in the Pacific as it is the tropics most common plant. Its history is complex and has played a major role in both human and ecological survival.

The long-term interaction between humans and coconuts has shaped both the geographical distribution of C. nucifera and its phenotypic diversity. While the coconut fruit is naturally adapted for dispersal by sea currents, its pan-tropical dissemination was achieved with the help of humans.

Until 1962, when soybean oil was introduced, coconut oil was the first and most widely used vegetable oil. During the sixteenth century, prior to European colonization, there were no records of coconut palms ever inhabiting the Caribbean, the east coast of the Americas, or western Africa.

In the Indian Ocean, the composition of coconut populations was likely influenced by Austronesian expansions westward to Madagascar. Later, coconuts were introduced by Europeans from India to the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America and to the Caribbean.

According to Western records Cocos nucifera was first reported in 545 AD by an Egyptian, Cosmos, who saw them in Ceylon. He also visited Western India. In his "Topographia Christiana" cosmos describes the coconut as the "great nut of India". The Mahavasma, an ancient chronological history of Ceylon, describes the planting of coconut in that country in 589 AD.

Marco Polo had also seen them in 1280 in Indonesia. He described coconut growing in Sumatra, as well as in Madras and Malabar, in India calling it nut indica, the Indian nut.

Vasco de Gamma traveled the route around the tip of Africa to India in 1498 and only reported seeing “coquos” when he visited Malindi in Kenya.

Christopher Columbus incorrectly identified coconut palms while visiting the Caribbean in the 1490s. McCormack (2005) stated that in 1549 Diego Corenco evidently introduced the first coconut palm into Puerto Rico.
History of coconut palm