The Sex Life of An Exotic Coconut Tree

OK children let’s do the smutty part first and then you can all stop giggling.  The Coco de Mer bears fruit that has, over the ages, made it infamous.

The female tree bears an enormous coconut shaped like the female genitalia while the fruit of the male tree is somewhat more phallic.
They grow almost exclusively on Praslin Island and where first discovered in 1743.  They can be seen along with the insect-eating pitcher plant, vanilla orchids, and some of the earth’s rarest birds: the Seychelles bulbul, fruit pigeon, and the black parrot which you may spot on nature trails when walking through the forest.
Now nearly extinct, the Coco de Mer require a special licence to be removed from the islands.  Legend has it that sailors who first discovered the ­double coconut floating in the sea thought it resembled a woman’s buttocks. This fact is reflected in its old botanical name Lodoicea ­ callipyge, which roughly translates as “beautiful rump”.  Because of the erotic shapes, some say the trees make passionate love on stormy nights.

The nuts are the world’s heaviest, weighing up to 30kg (66lb) and can grow up to 51cm (20 inches) in diameter.  They were in history much sought after and European nobles in the ­16th Century would polish and decorate them with ­jewels.  Sea merchants also considered the Coco de Mer to have magical healing properties.
Without doubt it was the finding of these nuts that caused the island of Praslin to be dubbed the Garden of Eden – and the palm the “Tree of Good and Evil”.
To see them at their best visit the Vallée de Mai nature park on Praslin.
Top Tip Visitors are not allowed to carry bags on the trail that passes through the park and if you carry a professional looking camera, you are likely to be banned, as we were from carrying it, unless you pay a photographic license fee. 


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