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Traditional coconut varieties are generally classified in four main types:
- Tall-types, which represents 90 to 95 % of all existing coconut palms. They are often called simply “Talls”. They generally form quite heterogeneous cross-pollinating populations. Talls can grow at a rate of more than 50 cm annually when young and flower at 6-10 years with an economic life span of 60-70 years.
- Preferentially Self-pollinating Dwarf-types. They are often called Dwarfs, Fragile Dwarfs or Malayan-Type Dwarfs, because the Malayan Red and Yellow Dwarfs are the most widely known cultivars of this group. They grow at a rate of 15 to 30 cm annually, have a productive life span of 30-40 years and usually start flowering 12 to 30 months after field planting. Apart from their usually short height, these varieties show a combination of common characteristics: autogamic preference, small size of organs, precocity, and rapid emission of inflorescences. Because of the last two characteristics, they play an important role in genetic improvement programs.
- Preferentially Cross-pollinating Compact Dwarf-types are generally called simply Compact Dwarfs or Niu Leka-type Dwarfs (because the Niu Leka Dwarf from Fiji is the most widely known cultivar of this type). This type of dwarf coconut, with short thick stem and wide leaflets, is much rarer and mainly found in the Pacific region.
- A few intermediate forms called Semi-Tall types, intermediate between Dwarfs and Talls, with variable reproduction modes. The most famous is the King Coconut cultivar from Sri Lanka, self-pollinating and producing bright orange pointed fruits.
Hazlewood, D. (1850). A Feejeean and English dictionary: with examples of common and peculiar modes of expression, and uses of words. Also, containing brief hints on native customs, proverbs, the native names of the natural productions of the Islands, notices of the Islands of Feejee, and a list of the foreign words introduced. Printed at the Wesleyan mission press.
Pratt, G. (1862). A Samoan dictionary: English and Samoan, and Samoan and English; with a short grammar of the Samoan dialect. London Missionary Society's Press.
Harries, H. C. (1978). The evolution, dissemination and classification ofCocos nucifera L. The botanical review, 44(3), 265-319.