6 Mind-Blowing Coconut Facts

1.  How To Find The Age Of A Coconut Palm

Be the hit of the party or an informed farmer with this one.

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Ever wanted a quick way to find the age of a coconut tree? You’ve come to the right place. As the coconut tree grows it forms new leaves, which are attached to its trunk.  A newly-grown leaf will stay attached to the trunk for three years before it is shed from the tree, leaving a  scar along the trunk.  A healthy tree will grow and shed around 13 leaves per year, creating 13 leaf scars. Therefore, to find the (approximate) age in years of a coconut palm, divide the number of leaf scars by 13. Happy counting.

 

2. Coconut Water Can Replace IV Solution

Yes, this is cool, no, I'm not a doctor.

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You read that right. Coconut water has been successfully used in the past as a replacement for IV solution. Why? Because coconut water is sterile, it has similar properties to human blood plasma (i.e., it is basically just water with dissolved minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium), and it’s readily available on remote tropical islands where IV solution is not always available.

The most popular accounts of coconut water replacing IV solution generally revolve around World War II, when IV solution was in short supply and medical centers on tropical islands were forced to use coconut water as a replacement to assist British and Japanese pilots. In more recent years, coconut water has been reported being used successfully in the Solomon Islands where IV solution can sometimes be difficult to access.

Although coconut water can work as IV solution in some situations, it’s major downsides are that its acidity, potassium, calcium and magnesium concentrations are higher than blood plasma and its sodium concentration is lower. These factors can cause adverse medical reactions in certain situations.

Bottom line, it’s best to stick to using coconut water for oral rehydration as it’s a better alternative to synthetic, sugary juices like gatorade. However, if you’re knocking at death’s door, and find yourself with only a coconut, an IV drip, and a medical professional, it might just do the trick.

 

3.  Drupe, Not A Nut

Coconut wood is not really wood either...

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Yes, many of us have lived our lives in ignorance. I too spent most of my living years believing the cocoNUT was a nut, but alas, a “coconut is not a nut”. If you need a moment before proceeding to the next paragraph, know that most other readers are grieving with you, this too shall pass...  

Ok, now you’re probably wondering, what’s a drupe? A drupe is a fruit with a hard covering protecting the inner seed. Like a peach, olive, walnut, mango, coconuts have 3 layers. For some drupes, the second layer (mesocarp) attracts animals who consume and spread the seeds. For coconuts, this layer is a fibrous husk, which also helps in seed dispersal by allowing the coconut to safely float across vast seas.

If you’re still feeling hurt and deceived by the cocoNUT, just divert your outrage to the fact that almonds, peanuts, macadamias and walnuts aren’t technically nuts either.

 

4. No, 150 People Are Not Killed By Coconuts Each Year

But they can still be deadly

Echoed from prestigious research institutions to blogs all over the internet, this statistic was first kindled in 1984 as a comparison to minimize the probability of dying from a bat bite. Curator of mammals at the Milwaukee Public Museum, Dr. Merlin Tuttle, stated "statistically, you have a better chance in this country of dying from being hit on the head with a coconut than from a bat biting you."

  Yes, coconuts will seek out and kill. Even holding a lollipop won’t save you.

Yes, coconuts will seek out and kill. Even holding a lollipop won’t save you.

Fast forward to 2002 and the comparison crystallized into a statistic by George Burgess, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History when he started, “Falling coconuts kill 150 people worldwide each year, 15 time the number of fatalities attributable to sharks.” Today, this “150 people killed” statistic is thrown around with little questioning.  Unfortunately, too often, coconuts don’t have a voice in this debate, and are thrown under the bus in drawing convenient comparisons to a myriad of other unlikely death scenarios--don’t worry coconuts, we have your back this time.

If we dig into the details, one finds Burgess’s statistic relying on lofty assumptions from a report that mentions anecdotal evidence of 5 deaths from “coconut related injuries” over a 4 year period while being stationed at a hospital in Papua New Guinea.  These injuries included falling out of a coconut tree--which the coconut itself can hardly be held culpable for.

Seeing that the hospital served 130,000 people, one could possibly try to extrapolate this statistic to 150 around the world. However, until a full scale study is conducted, coconuts stand innocent.

Thank you Nicki and Cecil Adams for this Pulitzer-deserving research.

 

5. Yes, You Can Mail A Coconut

The Ultimate Hipster Postcard

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Add this one to your bucket list. The United States Postal Service views a coconut as “a self-contained unit, one which cannot be easily tampered with by criminals or readily examined by postal inspectors.”

Well, what are you waiting for? Slap on a stamp, write an address and give it a go!

Still don’t believe us? Mythbusters says it’s real...so it is.

 

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6. The Sun Worshipping Cocovore Cult

What in the?

Fifteen young german nudists of the early 1900s, seduced into a sun-worshipping cocovore cult in pursuit of an idyllic utopia only to face tragic death from malnutrition? Yes, you just read that. Get the full story from NPR.