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By R. Bourdeix
Traditional coconut varieties are generally classified in four main types:
Until recently Dwarf coconut palms were mostly used in the gardens of houses, planted for their decorative value and the sweetness of their young, tender drinking nuts. They differ from Tall-type coconut palms through earlier flowering, slower vertical growth, a tendency towards self-pollination, and higher susceptibility to drought and insect attacks. The first fruits produced by Dwarf coconut palms often hang to the ground
Brazil and other countries like India, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam recently developed very large and profitable plantations of Dwarfs for coconut water production. Two varieties are mainly used, the Brazilian Green Dwarf (very sweet water) and the Aromatic Green Dwarf (special perfumed flavor of the water).
The coconut stem is relatively smooth and pale in colour, with regular markings: each frond produced by the palm leaves a crescent-shaped leaf scar. It is possible to distinguish between the two types of coconut palm, Talls and Dwarfs, by the gaps between the scars. In Tall palms, the gap between two leaf scars is more than 5 cm, whereas it does not exceed 2.5 cm in Dwarfs. Dwarf coconuts varieties are the easiest to identify. Each variety described is fairly uniform and has particular features that help to distinguish it from other Dwarf varieties.
Each variety is given a unique international name. The name, in English, usualy consists of the type, Dwarf or Tall, to which a geographical or cultural reference is added. For varieties of uniform colour, that too is usually mentioned. One thus finds Malayan Yellow Dwarf and Madang Brown Dwarf (Madang is a town in Papua New Guinea).
Posted by Dr Roland Bourdeix