Species: Coco-de-mer (Lodoicea maldivica)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: The coco-de-mer has some of the longest leaves and the largest and heaviest seeds of any plant in the world.
The coco-de-mer is a palm tree endemic to the Seychelles. Unlike other Seychelles palms, the coco-de-mer is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. Coco-de-mer palms start producing fruit after 25 years, and these fruits take 7 years to develop. The seeds can weigh up to an enormous 30kg, and give this species its name: seeing the seeds washed up on deserted beaches or riding the waves, sailors named them ‘coconuts of the sea’ as they appeared to come from a mysterious plant in the ocean.
This palm has been lost from the wild from three Seychelles islands within its former range. The collection and trade of coco-de-mer seeds has virtually stopped all natural regeneration of populations. Habitat loss is one of the major threats to the survival of remaining populations. The Seychelles is a World Heritage Site, giving protection to much of the coco-de-mer’s habitat. The trade in these seeds is now controlled by the Coco-de-mer (Management) Decree of 1995. The continued protection of populations and enforcement of regulations is important to secure the future of the magnificent coco-de-mer.
Find out more about the coco-de-mer on the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) website.
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher