coconuts, the thread that won't break!

Sat Aug 28 08:21:48 EST 1999

The probable reason for so much confusion about coconuts, aside from 
ignorance (meant in the sense of "uninformed") about plant structure in 
general, is that coconuts are monocots (mono- = one, -cot = cotyledon) and 
most discussions of cotyledons are broached from the dicot (di- = two) 
perspective. This probably relates to the fact that many (Most?) dicots have 
emergent cotyledons while few (if any; Ross? David H.?) monocots use their 
single seed leaf (the other name for a cotyledon) for anything other than as 
an absorptive interface between the endosperm and the growing part of the 
embryo. Emergent, photosynthetic cotyledons are much easier to point to in 

Even in dicots with hypogean (underground) cotyledons which remain inside the 
seed coat, such as the garden pea (_Pisum_ _sativum_), the cotyledons are 
easy to demonstrate. Try this with the monocot corn (_Zea_ _mays_).

Dave Williams
(an old, botanical fire horse who salivates every time he hears words like 
"petiole" and "hypanthium")

Science Department
Valencia Community College, East Campus
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
Orlando, FL  32825
profdhw at
407-299-5000 x2443

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