Germinating Coconuts?

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Thu Aug 12 10:18:37 EST 1999

At 6:37 PM -0400 8/10/99, David Starrett wrote:
>At 09:24 AM 8/10/99 -0500, you wrote:
>>The coconuts sold in stores usually aren't mature.  The sloshing you
>>hear, the milk, is liquid endosperm.  It's an unusual phenomenon--the
>>endosperm is multi-nuclear but has no cell walls.  As the fruit matures,
>>the endosperm solidifies into the "meat" of the coconut.  The more milk,
>>the less ripe the nut.
>Does a mature seed therefore have no milk?  I have heard that the endosperm
>solidifies and always wondered why/how a liquid which would settle to the
>bottom coats the inside so uniformly.  So, all the meat in a coconut is
>solid endosperm?  Why the big hollow space?  To make it float?  Where is
>the cotyledon?  Is there a scutellum-like structure  on the embryo?  What
>fruit type would a coconut fall under? (not being a true nut).
>Guess I was luckier than I relalized getting a supermarket coconut to

Hi Dave!

I have never tried the grocery store "pits" to
see if I could grow a tree...I knew I would never
have space to deal with it.  But I am interested
in the replies you get to the questions.  I have
always taught that the fruit is a drupe (albeit not
too fleshy in the husk!). I'd be glad to know if there
are other interpretations out there. I usually do
tell my classes that cartoons get a lot of science
wrong (Smurf rainbows have the wrong color sequence
and Care-Bear-Stares are not much better although I
admit to not watching these recently...they were
not right back when my kids were little). The coconut
cartoon problem is that someone walks under or shakes
a tree and ONLY the pits fall out (brown with three
black spots). I ask them if they wonder who has the
machete up in the tree to take off the tough husk and
where they are putting the 20 lb monsters! I usually
go on to explain that many artists either are biologically
inexperienced or are using only the artistic side of
their brains...the analytical half was "out to lunch".
This is my wink and smile-   ;-)


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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