Coconut scientific name is Cocos Nucifera, a type of isolated tree with the ability to grow over 30 meters. Fossil samples in New Zealand indicate that the coconut tree dates back about 15 million years.
Thanks to the light weight it has, coconut floats on the water, following the ocean currents, and traveling around the world. People in Hawaii assume that coconuts are immigrated by a Pynesia-based seaman from the south of the Pacific Ocean. Coconut trees in Vietnam are mainly grown in the South-western region and the South – Central Coast region.
According to the ancient documents, Vietnamese coconut originated in the Champa Kingdom which was 2,000 years ago. At that time, Champa had a coconut tribe, called Cham Dua (Coconut Cham) in the present Binh Dinh area.
In the 2nd century, the Coconut Cham established Lam Ap kingdom. Nowadays, there is O Cho Dua Ward in Hanoi, despite the fact that there is no sign of coconut trees in this ward, Yen So village in Hoai Duc district is also called the Coconut village.
In the 1960s – 1970s, war films with the South setting, such as Noi Gio, Chi Tu Hau, Vi Tuyen 17 Ngay Va Dem, took place in dense coconut forest along sides of the green river in Yen So.
Yen So ancient village, the hometown of famous general Pham Tu – Ly Phuc Man, is ruined, the coconut forests are dying and shrinking. The Vietnamese coconut tree was brought back by the famous general Pham Tu to grow in the North of the country, after the victory at Lam Ap in the 6th century.
Today, Yen So is no longer a coconut land, but more than half of the village is selling coconuts to Hanoi and surrounding areas. Coconut trees in the Southwestern region in Vietnam were primarily brought by the immigrants of Cham Dua when they were discovering this land.
Coconut is named “a tree of 1,001 uses’ ‘, “a tree of creating jobs”. Coconut’s stem, leaves, leaf veins, branches, flowers, fruits, coir, white flesh, water, roots, can be turned into products for people. In Sanskrit, a coconut tree is called Kalpa Visksha – “a tree brings everything needed for life”. In Malaysia, it is called Pokok Seribu Guna – “a tree of thousand uses”.
For Vietnamese and Filipinos, it is called “a tree of life”. Vietnam coconut has many varieties. If we classify by its uses, there are 3 main categories: Coconuts for refreshment drinks including Green Siamese Coconut, Siamese Coconut, Orange Coconut, Dua Xiem Xanh Ruot Hong (Pink Coconut), Dua Eo Nau (Brown Coconut), Dua Eo Nau (Green Coconut), Tam Quan Coconut, and more.
These varieties have short stems, early fruiting, high yield, sweet water. Some are fruiting in less than 2 years, with over 150 fruits/ year in each tree. In Mui Ne, there is a type of coconuts named “3 nhat” (3 cuts), as with only 3 cuts by using a knife, people can “open” the coconut and drink its sugary water.
Coconuts for oil and candy making are: Vietnamese green coconut, Vietnamese yellow coconut, strawberry-shape green coconut, strawberry-shape yellow coconut, strawberry-shape red coconut, Bung coconut; with new varieties like PB121, PB141, JVA1, JVA2, etc. this type of coconuts have a tall stem, big fruit, thick white flesh.
Specialty coconuts with high economic value like pineapple coconut, Sap coconut, Soc coconut. The pineapple coconut has a short stem. It is usually used to get water with a characteristic sweet taste. Its water, flesh, hard shell, flowers, and leaves have a scent of pineapple. Sap coconut, or creamed coconut, has thick flesh, creamed water due to mutant genes.
Because it is grown with other types of coconut, Sap coconut fertilizes with regular coconuts, making the percentage of Sap coconuts’ appearance in a tree ranging from 20% – 25%. If Sap coconuts are grown in a whole garden, this percentage can be up to 80% – 100%.
Previously, Sap coconuts were only grown in Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province; Nowadays, they have been red in many places. The Philippines is a country growing the most Sap coconuts in the world
Coconut has many benefits. Its stem can be used to make great pillars, wood planks, tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, kitchen utensils, handicraft products, and more. In Manila, Philippines, there is a unique Coconut Palace. Coconut stems are used to make small dugout canoes, musical instruments.
Coco sawdust is used to manufacture plywood, growing bonsai. Coco leaves are used to produce brooms, walls, roofs, handicraft products, and fuel. Leaf veins are used to make meat skewers, baskets of decorative flowers and fruits. Young coconuts are used to get water.
Ripe coconuts are used to make coconut milk, candy, jam, oil, and cosmetic products. The water of the young nuts can be used to make coconut jelly cubes and coconut jelly. Coconut shells are used to make dippers, musical instruments, handicraft products, activated carbon, etc.
Coconut fibers are used to make heat-insulating wooden boards, mattresses, ropes, ecological nets, carpets, brushes, fillers in fertilizers, materials for compaction, clean soil treatment, mushroom cultivation, moisture retention, etc.
Coco flowers can be used to get water like the palmyra palm, coconut wine, coconut sugar. Flower stalks are used for decorative lights, flower baskets. Heart of the palm inside of the young leaves and shoots on the top and the coconut buds are delicious specialties.
Coco roots is a versatile herbal medicine. Coconut ash can be used as fertilizers effectively… Coconut is not only used to serve our lives, creating many products for domestic consumption, but it is also exported and used to develop the tourism industry in Vietnam.
Coconut trees are not picky about soil, it requires less care than others, and it is not picky about fertilizers – drugs. Coconut trees can be intercropped with other crops. The efficiency of coconut trees is increasing when the farmers have knowledge about selecting varieties, and the government has a development plan for coconut trees.
It is said that “drink Siamese coconut water and you won’t need to take a tonic injection”. Coconut water contains almost every nutrient needed for our body, with diverse vitamins and minerals. During the war, young coconut water was called “the mineral water plant”, and was used instead of infusion because of its essential trace minerals, absorbable sugars, and vitamin C.
According to Oriental medicine, coconut water is warm and sweet, which helps strengthen and cool down the body, and nourishes our skin. Coconut is the major medicine to cure malnutrition, heatstroke, haematemesis, nosebleeds, hoarseness, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, vomiting, diuretic, nephritis, deworming, immunostimulant in tuberculosis, with specific and effective remedies. Coconut water nourishes the skin and smooth hair.
That’s why girls in Ben Tre have more beautiful skin and longer, smoother hair than others. Also, coconut water “preserves sperm”, thereby helping men to always be “ready to fight”.
Young coco flesh is used to treat stomach ulcers, hepatitis, diabetes, hemorrhoids, colitis, so on. The green outer layer and fiber of the coconut are used to clean wounds, treat burns, eczema, sores, and more. Burnt coconut hard shells helps diarrhea, and against radiation.
Coconut flesh is good for our spleen and stomach. Coconut residue treats broken bones, makes cosmetic products. Coconut root cures bleeding, diuretic. Peruvians leave the stem of cotton bud tree impregnated with bacteria that eat Anophen mosquito larvae into coconut fruits, and cover.
The bacteria eat the nutrients of the coconut, and start to develop. Then, people will pour this coconut water into ponds, and the bacteria will find and eat malaria mosquito larvae, as an effective way to prevent disease.
Coconut is loved and always available by Filipinos. In the Philippines, it is called Nata. The prime president, Mr. Fidel Ramos one said: “Thanks to enjoying Nata frequently, I always look 20 years younger than my real age”.
The Japanese also believe that Nata has the effect of preventing cancers. Especially, when we stew the whole fruit with black beans, it helps effectively in degenerative osteoarthritis. Drinking water while being pregnant, the baby will have bright and smooth skin. In Vietnam, there is a rich coconut cuisine that will be mentioned later when we have chances.
Coconut can cure many diseases, however, it’s not a medicine, but it’s just a functional food. Drinking water is not always good for everyone. Those who have just been outside in sunny weather, those who are starving and exhausted, those who are prone to fever and cold, and those who are going to have a sports competition should not drink coconut water.
You should only drink 1 fruit a day, drinking too much coconut water can cause indigestion, particularly if you eat the coconut flesh and drink the coco water, or you enjoy cold coco water at night. The best way to enjoy coconut is to leave the fruit as a whole, drink it while being at its tree, and do not place the fruit on the ground.
When the coconut water is out of the shell, it will reduce the taste, and the longer you leave it to be exposed to the air, the more effects it will lose. In Vietnam, there is a Coconut Association.
How to bring Vietnam coconut trees back to their heyday is a question once being answered will bring a great effect. Just like the tea tree, the more the coconut tree grows, the better the health of the race is improved. It is necessary to establish a Coconut Museum so that the Vietnamese “tree of life” will grow constantly.
The dwarf coconut tree
Green Siamese coconut
It is the most popular variety of coconuts that are used to get water in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. The flower starts blooming after approximately 2,5 – 3 years of cultivation. Its average yield is 140 – 150 fruits/ tree/ year.
Green Siamese Coconut has a green outer layer, and elegantly sweet water (7 – 7.5% sugar contained). The volume of water in the fruit is 250 – 350 ml/ fruit. It has a large demand in the market.
Red Siamese coconut
It is the second popular variety of coconuts that are used to get water in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. The flower starts blooming after 3 years of cultivation. Its average yield is 140 – 150 fruits/ tree/ year.
The outer layer is thin and brown-red. It has elegantly sweet water (7 – 7.5% sugar contained). The volume of water in the fruit is 250 – 350 ml/ fruit. It has a large demand in the market.
It has the most delicious taste of all. It takes its root back to Ben Tre. The flower starts blooming after 2 years of cultivation. The average yield is 150-160 fruits/ tree/ year. The outer layer is dark green. Its water is sugary (8 – 9% sugar contained). The volume of water in the fruit is 250 – 350 ml/ fruit. It is very popular in the market.
Orange Siamese coconut
It is a variety of coconuts, which are used to get water, and has a beautiful color. The flower starts blooming after 2,5 – 3 years of cultivation. It produces a lot of fruit in the small size, thin and orange-yellow outer layer, and sweet water (6.5-7% sugar contained). The average yield is 140-150 fruit/tree/year. The volume of water in the fruit is 250-350 ml/ fruit. It can be grown to get water and used as a means of exploiting coconut garden eco-tourism.
Tam Quan Coconut
Tam Quan Coconut is a water-drinking coconut variety with beautiful color. It comes from Tam Quan (Binh Dinh). It blooms after planting 3 years, the average yield is 100-120 fruits/tree/year, the coconut hard shell is thin with bright yellow, water has a sweet taste(7.5-8% sugar), the water volume is 250-350ml/fruit.
People believe that Tam Quan Coconut water is cool, so it is often used to cure diseases. However, due to low productivity, this coconut is currently only grown in small quantities, mainly in the Mekong Delta.
Brown coconut is a water-drinking coconut variety with many fruits, small size, brown hard shell, sweet water(7-7.5%), water volume from 100-150ml/fruit, productivity with 250-300 fruits/tree/year.
It can be used to make ice cream coconut, coconut jelly and eco-tourism landscape.Because the fruit size is too small, this coconut is not grown much in the Mekong Delta provinces and a few in the central coastal provinces.
Green coconut is a water-drinking coconut variety with many fruits, small size, green hard shell,sweet water(7-7.5%), water volume from 100-150ml/fruit, productivity with 250-300 fruits/tree/year.
It can be used to make ice cream coconut, coconut jelly and eco-tourism landscape. This coconut is not grown much in the Ben Tre, Tien Giang and Mekong Delta provinces. Like brown coconut, green coconut size is too small, so you should pay attention to limit development scale of these coconut.
Siamese coconut is a water-drinking coconut variety with delicious water quality(8-8.5% sugar). It blooms after planting 3 years, the average yield is 100-120 fruits/tree/year, the coconut hard shell has green, the water volume is 250-350ml/fruit. This coconut is not grown much in the Hung Phong-Giong Trom and some places.
Coconut pineapple is a water-drinking coconut variety with high quality and economic value. Currently, it has a great demand in the market. All parts of the Coconut pineapple have a characteristic pineapple aroma. There are three coconut groups with different about size and aroma.
Group 1: Fruit is round wih small size, hard sheel has green, water is sweet and aroma is the best strong, but the germination rate is very low(<10%), so there is no seeding in the market. It blooms after planting 2,5-3 year, the average yield 120-140 fruit/tree/year, water is sweet(8-8,5 sugar), the water volume is 200-250 ml/fruit.
Group 2: fruit has medium size, fruit hard shell has green, water is sweet and aroma is lighter than group1. This group is very popular in the market. It blooms after planting 2,5-3 years, the average yield 120-150 fruit/tree/year, water is sweet (7-7,5 sugar), water volume is 250-350 ml/fruit.
Group 3: fruit has big size, fruit hard shell has green or yellow. It blooms after planting 2,5-3 years, the average yield 60-80 fruit/tree/year, water is sweet (7-7,5 sugar). This group has the sweetest and lightest aroma, so when you choose seed, it should be removed.
Note: you should grow concentrated to have fruit rate with higher fragrant.
Tall coconut group
This coconut variety is the most popular in Viet Nam, fruit has three slits with three color(green, yellow, red ). It blooms after planting 4,5-5 years, the average yield 60-70 fruit/tree/year, water,fruit size is big, coconut rice is thick 11-13mm, fresh coconut rice volume is 400-500g, oil level is high (63%-65%).
This tall coconut variety is the second popular in Viet Nam, fruit is round with three color(green strawberry, yellow strawberry, red strawberry). It blooms after planting 4-4,5 years, the average yield 70-80 fruit/tree/year, water,fruit size is medium, coconut rice is thick 10-12mm, fresh coconut rice volume is 300-400, oil level is high (63%-65%).
Sap coconut is also known as thick coconut, ice cream coconut. About appearance , the tree and fruit of Sap coconut are no different from coconut. It is high coconut variety.
It blooms after 4-4,5 years, the average yield 50-60 fruit/tree/year. In the natural Sap coconut population, there are about 20-25% fruit, the rest fruits are normal coconut. Sap coconut (thick coconut) has soft coconut rice, the water is as thick as glue with a characteristic aroma. It is used to make desserts, candy, cake, ice cream coconut,..
To different between Sap coconut and normal coconut, people have to shake fruit by hand after harvesting(about 10 months or more). If fruits do not shake water or shake water with unclear sound, it is Sap coconut Coconut can not germinate by traditonal incubation method.
Therefore, when people grow Sap coconut, people often use non-wax fruits on Sap coconut tree to incubate. However, due to genetic characteristics, only 50% trees will produce Sap fruits. In other words, Sap coconut have only ability to produce Sap fruits when it is pollinated by Sap coconut variety. Therefore, if you want to achieve high Sap fruit rate, you have to grow with large numbers.
Sap Coconut is grown a lot in Hoa Tan Commune, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province and the neighboring communes. Recently, economic value of Sap coconut is high, so it is bred in the Mekong Delta provincces.
Sap Coconut in Viet Nam has two group of thick coconut:
Group 1: the thick coconut rice is the same as normal coconut, but the rice is soft, the water is thick. This group often is found in Sap coconut tree with big fruit, the same normal coconut, or round fruits with brown.
Group 2: Coconut rice is thicker than normal coconut with 2 clear layer. The coconut rice adjoin to the coconut shell to create a structure like sticky rice. The inner layer of coconut rice is borderd by the coconut water like cotton.
The coconut water is very thick with clear white. This thick group often is found in Sap coconut tree with round fruit, medium size like green strawberry coconut.
Currently, Dau and Cay research institute is producing Sap coconut by embryo culture method from Sap fruit embryo. With this technique, Sap coconut will produce Sap fruit rate with 50% or more, depending on the population planted more or less.
Hybrid coconut group
Hybrid coconut is used to take oil. It is research by Dau and Cay research institute. It is also produced by controlled crossbreeding(artificial pollination or assisted pollination) between tall coconut variety(father) and dwarf coconut variety (mother).
Hybrid coconut have intermediate characteristics between two groups above. The highlight advantage of this hybrid coconut is bloom early. Fruit productivity and strawberry volume is high and they have ability to response with harsh environmental conditions.
Hybrid coconut variety have ability to response with Mekong Delta conditions and Central Coast provinces.
PB 121 Hybrid coconut
This coconut variety is crossbreeded between tall father coconut variety(from West Afican) and Malaysia yellow dwarf mother coconut variety (from Malaysia).
It blooms early after 2,5-3 years, the average yield 150-200 fruit/tree/year, water, fruit size is small, coconut rice is thick 13-14mm, fresh coconut rice volume is 250-300, oil level is high (65-67%). Today, this hybrid variety has the highest quality and productivity, but it is less popular in the market due to small fruit size.
JVA 1 hybrid coconut
This coconut variety is crossbreeded between Bago Oshiro tall father coconut variety(from Philippines) and Malaysia yellow dwarf mother coconut variety (from Malaysia). ).
It blooms early after 2,5-3 years, the average yield 120-150 fruit/tree/year, water,fruit size is medium, coconut rice is thick 12-13mm, fresh coconut rice volume is 300-350, oil level is high 65%.
JVA2 hybrid coconut
This coconut variety is crossbreeded between Bago Oshiro tall father coconut variety(from Philippines) and Malaysia red dwarf mother coconut variety (from Malaysia). ).
It blooms early after 2,5-3 years, the average yield 100-140 fruit/tree/year, water,fruit size is medium, coconut rice is thick 12-13mm, fresh coconut rice volume is 350-400, oil level is high 65%.
Hybrid coconut is produced by sophisticated process. It takes 1,5 years to produce seeding products. Moreover,father and mother plants at seed production centers is not much.
The number of seeding to provide for market is also very limit. In other words, Hybrid coconut tree have strong growth and development ability,and fruit productivity is higher than native coconut from 1,5-2 times, so the nutritional requirement for the tree is also higher, and people have to invest high Intenive Farming. Especially, people are not used Hybrid coconut fruit to breed.