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Coco de Mer - the famous fruit of the Seychelles

More than 40 percent of Seychelles territory is covered by natural reserves and protected by the state. Numerous parks are full of unique species of flora and fauna, the biggest part of which is endemic. Flora deserves special attention; there are more than 2 000 species of plants and trees untouched by humans.

Fruits of coco de mer palm is Seychelles symbol. You can see its picture on the stamp that is put in a passport when tourists arrive in the islands.

The main characteristics of the plant and its fruits

palm

Coco de mer palm tree grows only on Seychelles archipelago, mostly on Praslin and Curieuse. The plant has a form of a fan with a height of about 25-34 meters, the length of leaves varies from 7 to 10 meters, the maximum width – 4,5 m.

Coco de mer is a dioecy plant. It means that one kind of plant has male flowers, another one – female that can have fruits up to 30 kilos – the biggest and the heaviest fruits in the world. They are also unique due to its erotic form of female buttocks.

Female fruits ripen only in 5-6 years, then a fruit falls and sprouts 3-6 month later. The palm gets fruitful at least in 15 years, sometimes it takes 50 years. A tree can reach minimum 200 years old.

If a fruit gets to water, it drowns due to its weight. When it stays underwater for a long time, its husk falls off, its flesh decomposes pushing the fruit up to the water surface. But fruit is not fertile anymore.

Myths and legends

male plant of coco de mer

There are many myths and legends about the unique palm and its fruits.

The similarity of male and female fruit with the erotic forms created the following story: when it was stormy, late at night, when the streets are empty, trees merged and made love. They said that those who would see that process could get blind or even die.

The course used to bring the nuts to the Maldives that’s why it was initially considered the homeland of coco de mer. The fruits were thought to belong to the king. And those who hid a finding were punished, sometimes they even lost his hands.

According to another legend, coco de mer in Seychelles is a forbidden fruit that Eve gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden. That was the idea of British Major-General Charles George Gordon that landed on Seychelles islands in 1881 and saw a unique erotic form of coco de mer.

They say that Malayan sailors watched the fruits falling up right from the ocean floor. People were sure that coco de mer grew underwater, and its tree was home for a sacred bird Garuda.

The locals highly appreciate the valuable properties of coconut and are sure that it has a curative effect and can be used as aphrodisiac.

How to buy coco de mer fruit as a souvenir

female plant of coco de mer

All the fruits of coco de mer in Seychelles are numbered, that’s why it’s easy to control its number. According to the official data, they sell about a thousand fruits, but there are fewer of them left due to steal.

You can buy a souvenir legally in the natural reserve Valle-de-Mai where all the coconuts have the certificates. Another place to buy them – the capital of Seychelles, Victoria.

Do make sure that coconut has all the necessary documents to confirm its authenticity and legality of collection. A fruit can cost 200-600 euros depending on a size and form.

Collection of fruits is strictly controlled by the Ministry of the Environment. The proceeds from the sale of souvenirs are spent on the ecological projects of the republic.

Coco de mer is a natural wonder and pride of Seychelles. If you are lucky to spend vacations there, do not miss the chance to see this unique plant yourself.

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