The coconut palm has a large base as stem which becomes slightly smaller in circumference as it goes up. Unlike any other tree, coconut tree has fruits covered by bunches of fruits only at the apex of its stem. The stem goes on to reach a height of 25 meters. The color of the stem is light gray which is supported well by the thick mesh structure of roots. Coconut palms produce inflorescences at angle between the base of the leaf-stalk and the trunk which bear both male and female flowers. The fruits, which grow from fertilized female flowers, take a year to develop.
Coconut palms require conditions of high humidity and plenty of sunlight. They will grow on a wide variety of well-drained soils but a constant supply of fresh water is essential. These conditions are often available on sea shores. Harvesting fruits from tall palms can be so difficult that in some coconut-growing areas in Indonesia and Thailand the pig-tailed macaque monkey has been trained to climb the trees to collect the nuts. The monkeys are well-treated and prized for their skill. Coconuts are harvested every two months throughout the year.
The coconut palm may have originated in the lands around the western Pacific. It was also dispersed by ocean currents, with the seeds protected by the fibrous fruit. Germinating coconuts were found washed up on the shores of the newly-born volcanic island, Anak Krakatoa, in the 1930s. Coconut palms have been known and used in India for 3,000 years. A letter written by an Arab trader of the eleventh century noted that the fiber from the palm was resistant to sea water. The Arab traders also taught the population of the Sinhalese and Malabar coast how to prepare the fiber from the nut, since by this time the palm was widespread along the Indo-Malaysian coast. When Marco Polo visited China in the fourteenth century, he was told that coir fiber from the 'Indian Nut' had been used by the Chinese for 500 years. In the mid-sixteenth century the palm was introduced into Spain and Portugal, Brazil and Puerto Rico by sea-faring traders. The name 'coconut' may have been coined by Spanish sailors to describe the monkey-faced appearance of the coconut.