The coconut is a wonder palm tree that has many uses. The extracted oil from its dried meat, the copra, is used for cooking food. It is also used as alternative fuel for diesel engine that is usually run by fossil fuel. Read on to learn the other uses of coconut tree.
Coconut (cocos nucifera) is called the tree of life in the Philippines. It is called as such because of its many uses. About one third of the Filipino families are dependent on it for livelihood. Coconut oil is one of the main exports of the Philippines. For the year 2009 the Philippines is the top coconut oil producer of the world with 19,500,000 tons followed by Indonesia with 15,319,000 tons.(1)
Coconut grows in the tropical areas of the world, and thrives most especially along the coastal areas where the soil is saline and sandy. The plant belongs to the palm family, and grows up to 30 meters tall. Its leaves come off the trunk when they wither and are replaced with younger ones cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. Like all other palm tree coconut has no branch, and all of the leaves and the fruits are confined at the upper portion of the tree. Over time the trees become tall and the fruits are no longer reachable for harvest. Since coconut is branchless, the farmer either makes footholds on the trunk to climb the tree or use a pole with a hook attached to its end to get the fruit.
In the 1970’s the Philippine coconut industry was affected by the negative report that Philippine copra was contaminated with aflatoxin, a carcinogenic substance. This caused the decline of export demand for Philippine coconut oil. Later studies found out that the aflatoxin was caused by the improper and unhygienic processing in the production of copra. But the raw meat itself, the source of the copra, was not the culprit. Taking measures to address the problem, the Philippine coconut industry was able to regain its footing and made its copra product again acceptable to the international market.
The leaves are the topmost part of the coconut. They are not as useful and economically profitable as the fruit, but it has many practical uses. They are used as a wrapping for rice based delicacies such as suman, a glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk. Sometimes rice is cooked and contained in a woven coconut leaves when boiled rice is to be eaten during outings. Woven leaves are also made as roofing for temporary camping shelters. Filipino soldiers used them in the field during tactical operations. Midribs or sticks of coconut leaves when taken off their blades are tied and bundled to make a broom. Coconut broomsticks are good tool to clean the backyard and the bathrooms. The sticks cut in small pieces can be used as skewers of small pieces of meats and vegetables and even as a toothpick. The petiole or the stalk, the largest part of the leaf, can be used as firewood when dried.