Location in BHU campus : Planted in Botanical and Ayurvedic gardens and in some residential quarters in Jodhpur colony.
Botanical name : Cocos nucifera L.
Family : Arecaceae
Vernacular / local Name : Bengali-Dab, narikel. Hindi-Nariyal; Kannada-Tengu; Malayalam-Thenna, thenga, narikelam; Marathi-Narel, naral; Sanskrit-Narikela; Tamil-Tennaimaram, tenkai; Telugu-Kobbarichettu, narikelamu, tenkaya.
English /Trade names : Coconut tree
A very lofty unbranched palm, seldom growing straight, 25 m high, 30-40 cm in diameter; stem smooth, annulate, bark greyish-black. Leaves pinnatisect, 3-4.5 m long; leaflets 60-90 cm x 5 cm, linear-lanceolate. Spathe 45-60 cm long, tapering at both ends. Flowers monoecious, straw-coloured; male small, female 2.5 cm diameter. Fruit ovoid, yellowish-green, three angled, 15-25 cm long, containing a single seed; the exocarp is thick and mesocarp fibrous which encloses a hard bony endocarp (shell).
Flowering and Fruiting :Almost throughout the year in coastal areas
The plant is considered sacred amongst the Hindus for its fruits as a symbol of good fortune. On the Hindu New year day it is considered auspicious to see a coconut immediately as one gets up in the morning. The fruits are also used on several social and religious occasions . The fruit is offered to God as it is believed to fulfil one’s desire. A whole green coconut is an essential item in Hindu religious ceremonies. In a wedding ceremony and on other auspicious occasions, a green coconut is placed on an earthen pitcher filled with water in front of the pandal. In many parts of India, Purna Kumbha is made out of a pitcher filled with water and adorned with paddy, mango twig and a green coconut smeared with vermillion. In Mysore it is worshipped as a family God, while in other places in India the coconut is worshipped as Saraswati the Goddess of learning . According to a tale when King Trishanku stopped in mid-air the sageVishwamitra held him up with a long pole, which later on became the trunk of the coconut tree and Trishanku’s head became the coconut fruit.
The plant is neither cut by the Hindus nor do they use the wood for fuel because the plant is considered to be the seat of Lord Narayana- may be for conservation of this economically important plant through religion, The Muslims of Deccan throw cut coconut and lime over the heads of bride grooms to scare away evil spirits. In western India coconuts are thrown into the sea at the close of monsoon to satiate and pacify the water.
It is a tree of great commercial value. Kernel of the seeds are eaten raw or used in sweetmeats, preparation of many dishes , pastries and confectionery. The dry copra is used for extraction of coconut oil; coconut oil is used for cooking as well as in soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, shaving creams and other preparations. Coconut fibre from the husk called coir is used for making mats, ropes .baskets, brushes etc. Leaves are woven into mats and baskets.They are also used for roof thatching .The trunk is used for making small boats. The sap of the tree is made into alcohol and sugar.The shell is made into scoops and other items.It is also used as a fuel.The leaf ribs are made into brooms.Coconut is called Green Gold in South India.
Coconut milk is a refreshing drink. The soldiers who needed transfusions were given coconut water during Second World war as it is sterile.