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Monday, July 27, 2009

Coconuts ( cocos nucifera)

A long long time ago a little brown nut sailed the seas to make it’s a home on Sri Lankan shores…The eastern Archipelago near Sumatra and Jawa was the original inhabitant of the lovely coconut palm. Ancients marines may well have propagated the first palms in the tropics. Historical writers however surmise that these nuts were tossed along tumultuous seas to be cast unceremoniously on to Sri Lankan soil.

Millions of Sri Lankan depends on this life-sustaining tree known as “ Pol” (coconut) or “Pol Gaha” (Coconut tree). It’s simply impossible to mention the value of this tree. There is not a single part in the coconut that is not used.

The nuts provide 22% of Sri Lanka’s calorie intake. It’s sterile water has been used as a Glucose drip. The husks provide fiber for roap,mats and clothes and many other products. The palm leaves serve as roofing to poor homes and an exquisite art form. The coconut flower forms the base for many medicines and for the National alcoholic beverage “Arrack”. The palm leaf serves both as a festive decoration and as a sacred offering to the gods. The trunk is used as a fuel and roots as a cure for a variety of ailments.

The Mahawansa: the primary historical chronical of the island, written in the 6th century AD refers to the existence of coconuts during the reign of king Dutugemunu (101~77BC). This book rightly acknowledges the coconut palm as the “Maharuk” or the great tree, so called on account of it’s variety of uses.

In fact ancient Sri Lankan compared it to the mythical “kapruk” the celestial tree that granted their every wish.

The Chulavansa: which proceed the Mahavansa tells of King Aggabodhi (545 AD) establishing a coconut plantation of three ‘yojanayas’ (36 miles), along the South coast of Sri Lanka.

The origin and history of the coconut is interspersed with myths and mystical stories. How ever one fact remains; the tree then and now is the lifeblood of this resplendent isle.

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