The coconut palm (Cocosnucifera) is the quintessential feature of any tropical shoreline—a symbol of romance and earthly paradise to some, a natural resource of great nutritional and utilitarian value to others. Its wide distribution may be partly accounted for by the fact that the fruit of the coconut palm—the coconut itself—comes in a thick, buoyant husk which can keep the seed fresh for several months, even at sea and in high temperatures. Consequently, it can be transported for thousands of miles by ocean currents and still remain viable. Man, too, has probably played an important role in the distribution of the coconut palm; its good storage qualities make it an ideal source of food and water on long ocean crossings. As a source of food, the growing tip, or ‘heart’, of the coconut may be eaten lightly boiled as a vegetable, or else raw in a salad, while the fermented sap, drawn from the spadix or flower stem, produces a toddy called tuak, which can also be distilled into aliquor (arak). Alternatively, a syrupor sugar may be obtained if thewater content is removed by evapoeration. The flesh of the coconut is good toeat but can also be turned into an oilwhich may be used for cooking orelse applied to the skin and hair:Dried as copra, the meat is used inthe manufacture of soap and mar-garine, while the outer husk producesa natural fibre called coir, which isused to make ropes and door mats,or as a stuffing for mattresses. Theripened nut also contains a clear liqeuid which provides a refreshing drinkor cocktail base. Lastly, the leaves ofthe coconut tree may be woven intomats or roofing thatch.