Nuts for coco de mer: islanders rally to save world’s biggest seed
The rare palm that bears this botanical icon grows wild on just two islands in Seychelles. Now locals are helping to save it in a new planting scheme
“The coco de mer is a much-loved cultural and botanical icon of the Seychelles,” says Katy Beaver, a plant expert on the islands who has been studying the rare palm for many years. The coco de mer, also known as the sea coconut or double coconut, is endemic to the islands and produces the largest and heaviest seeds in the world, a fascinating case of island gigantism. The suggestive shape of the seed has also earned it plenty of attention. Shrouded in folklore and legends, the palm is found growing naturally on only two of Seychelles’ 115 islands – Praslin, the second largest island in the country after Mahé, and nearby Curieuse. With only about 8,000 mature trees in existence today, the plant is named as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.