The growth stages of a coconut palm tree

Written by sara melone
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The growth stages of a coconut palm tree
Coconuts are used in cooking and baking all over the world. (anurak4ss/iStock/Getty Images)

Palm trees are an evergreen that come in many varieties. The coconut palm most often is identified by its towering height and crop of coconut fruits. Coconut palm trees are native to tropical regions such as the South Pacific and parts of south-east Asia. A coconut palm tree can take a long time to reach full maturity. If you have an interest in growing a coconut palm tree, you can start by germinating a coconut seed.

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Seed germination

The growth of a coconut palm tree starts with germination of the seed. A coconut seed can take as long as nine months to sprout. On the beaches and in the jungles where coconut palm trees grow naturally, the process starts when a coconut falls from the tree and becomes partially buried in the soil below. After several weeks or months, the outer husk of the coconut begins to split. Roots shoot from the bottom of the coconut, and a palm tree sprout begins to break out of the top of the seed.

Young plant growth

Once a coconut seed puts down roots and begins to sprout, it grows rapidly. Within a few months of sprouting, the palm fronds reach 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet) in length. The trunk grows taller and starts to increase in diameter.

Tree maturity

Most coconut palm trees take five to six years of growth before they begin to flower. In that time period, the main stalk of the palm tree reaches 6 to 9 metres (20 to 30 feet) tall. Fully mature coconut palm trees can reach heights of 18 metres (60 feet) or more. The coconut palm tree features a slender stalk that remains the same diameter along its entire length. The tree produces approximately 30 fronds, which form an umbrella pattern at the very top of the tree. Lower palm fronds die off and make room for another layer at the top as the tree continues to grow upwards.

Flowering stage

After five to seven years, the tree begins to flower. Flower clusters form in the axil of the tree where the leaves come together near the centre of the trunk. The flowers produce fruits, which become fully formed coconuts after approximately nine months. The coconuts drop to the ground once they are fully ripened. Mature trees can produce 50 to 60 coconuts per year, and some trees continue to bear fruit for 60 years or longer.

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