LODOICEA MALDIVICA : THE STRANGE STORY OF THE FAKE MALDIVIAN COCONUT

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Sea coconut, double coconut or Maldivian coconut (Lodoicea maldivica) seed.

Have you heard of the coconut species called Maldivian Coconut?   Scientifically known under the name of “Lodoicea maldivica” it was previously called “sea coconut” or “double coconut”.

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Louis XV

The name of Lodoicea, is a derivative of the Latin form of Louis, in honour of King Louis XV of France.  Maldivica is named after Maldives as explorers thought the coconut originated from Maldives even though it never grew in the these Islands

 

 

Let’s travel a bit in time (before the 18th century to be exact) and let’s discover the strange history of the so-called Maldivian coconut.

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Lodoicea Maldivica is famed for it’s gigantic seeds, which weight about 20kgs and are the larger seeds of any plant.

This scientific name, “Lodoicea maldivica”, was given by “ignorant” western botanists before the 18th century when the Seychelles archipelago was still uninhabited.  For centuries coconuts fell from the trees of Seychelles and ended up in Indian Ocean being carried away toward the east by sea currents.

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Lodoicea Maldivica coconut tree

When a Lodoicea maldivica fruit falls into the sea, it doesn’t float because of its weight and density; instead it will sink to the bottom. Nevertheless, after the coco has been on the bottom of the sea for a very long time , the husk falls , the inside of the nut rot, and the gas that form in cause the nut to rise up  and float to the surface.  At the time a nut can float, it becomes is no longer fertile and a tree cannot, and doesn’t grow from the nut. Afterwards the nut will drift and eventually find a welcoming island to beach.

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floating coconut

Like this, many drifted to the Maldives where the tree was unknown. They were collected from the beaches and treasured by the locals as an important trade and medicinal item.

This type of coconut was believed by local Maldivian population at this time to grow underwater on a mysterious tree at the bottom of the ocean.  Maldives inhabitants were giving these nuts an extraordinary origin as the propagation and the large numbers of cocos found on the beaches were not understood.  These mysterious fruits were sold to wealthy buyers from all around the world for their magical power and their ability to cure several diseases and to protect form poisoning!

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The most important buyers for this magic product were Indian Rajahs who were willing to spend a fortune on this magical merchandise. Because of their fear to be poisoned, these Rajahs were ordering their servant to shape goblets and recipients out of the coconut shell and were drinking and eating only from them.

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Indian coconut goblet 19th Century

But all good things come to an end, and the miraculous power of this coconut slowly faded away even though Maldivian did everything possible to keep this superstition alive in order to keep selling their products at an outrageous price.

Even though the “Lodoicea maldivica” never originated or grew in the Maldives it was a gold mine for the Maldivian population and sultans of the country at this time.

All the islands throughout the Maldives support a dense growth of palm trees called “Dhivehi Ruh”, (known as Cocos nucifera ) . They have been as much important as “Lodoicea maldivica” in Maldivian economy and folklore but we will tell you more about it in our next article!

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Coconut at Kuda Bandos beach – Maldives

 

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Discover the tropical vegetation of Maldives. Contact us for day excursions and private cruise: Sales@cruise-maldives.com

 

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4 responses to “LODOICEA MALDIVICA : THE STRANGE STORY OF THE FAKE MALDIVIAN COCONUT

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