Different Types of Coconuts

nick musica
Published Aug 26, 2020. Read time: 4 mins

You’ve heard of putting the lime in the coconut – but have you ever heard of a lime coconut?

That’s right, these nutty sensations actually come in all colors, shapes and sizes, including a fun electric green (Great at parties!) and creamsicle orange, aside from their usual brown coat.

But it’s what’s on the inside that really keeps us coming back for more – and thankfully, when it comes to coconuts, there’s plenty of varieties to come back for.

Going Nuts

From their husky outsides all the way to their sweet, cool heart, coconuts are a one of a kind fruit – literally.

The trees they’re borne from are the only member of the cocos genus, a designation which takes its name from the Spanish and Portuguese word “coco,” meaning head or skull. (Most likely because that’s what coconuts resemble, but possibly also a tribute to the body part most in danger of getting clonked by one.)

Though their scientific name is a description of the fruit – or, technically, a drupe – coconuts are more typically sorted by the characteristics of their trees, which are grown in several different varieties all across the world.

Different types of coconut trees, naturally, yield different types of coconuts – but to be honest, there’s hardly a variety we’re not crazy about. 

Dwarf Coconuts

Okay, we highly doubt you’ll see any of these trees following Snow White around. 

When it comes to trees, size is truly relative – and this “stunted” type of coconut tree can grow as high as 60 feet. (Most of them top out around 16, however, the measly height of a two-story building.)

In terms of lifespan, these trees sadly get the short end of the stick, only hanging around for an average of 40 to 50 years. Still, while they live, they give generously of their fruit.

Their coconuts are on the smaller side too, typically maxing out around only 3 oz. But they make up for it with some punched up pizzazz, coming in a spread of tropical colors ranging from yellow to green to orange. 

And though they are but little, the nuts—which grow across Southeast Asia and the South Pacific—are anything but short on taste.

Some more famous cultivars include:

  • Malayan Dwarf Coconut – The world’s most popular type of coconut, these rounded fruits are grown everywhere from Thailand, Fiji, and Brazil – though they’ve been known to travel as far north as Florda. The coconuts start out green, but blossom into a beautiful yellow when they’re ready to be enjoyed for their amble, sweet and soft meat.

  • Macapuno Coconut – Every family has that one “recessive gene” recipient, and when it comes to coconuts, the Macapno is it. The fruits borne of this tree are truly unique, with a water-free inside. Instead, they’re filled with a delicate, jelly-like flesh that has made the fruit a sensation in Asia and a popular pick to make into everything from ice creams to cakes.

  • Fiji Dwarf Coconut – One of the most popular types of coconut trees – though almost by default – the Fiji Dwarf represents one of the most resilient coconut cultivars, as one of the few types of coconut to outlive a tragic disease that killed off nearly 6 million trees in the 1970s. Its coconuts, a beautiful green when fully ripe, are equally tough, with a thick outer shell that reveals a firm, yet sweet, flesh.

  • King Coconuts – This varietal may dwarf the others in terms of taste, color and overall style. King coconuts are one of the healthiest types of coconuts, particularly noted for their high nutrient content, though their high sugar content also makes them one of the sweetest coconut cultivars. Top all that off with their unique orange color, and it’s truly good to be the king.

Tall Coconuts

With an average height of 90 feet, we guess we know where these trees’ name comes from. (And how a 30-footer could be considered a “dwarf.”)

But it’s not just the trees themselves that are tall – these coconut palms can grow at altitudes topping 3,000 ft., giving them one of the best vantage points around.

With their super height comes a strange super strength, making these types of coconut trees particularly durable during the high wind scenario of a tropical storm. And their sturdiness also gives them a longer lifespan (up to 90 years), and plenty of time to grow big, beautiful coconuts.

The fruit from tall coconut trees is typically medium-to-large sized, with many attaining the full, brown husk that marks the advanced age of a coconut fruit.

Though, tall coconut trees also produce yellow, orange and green coconuts, in a number of varietals, including:

  • East Coast Tall Coconuts – One of the most popular types of tall coconuts, these cultivars can create as many as 70 coconuts a year. And people tend to be crazy for their offerings, which are large, green, and particularly noted for the abundance of delicious coconut water waiting inside.

  • West Coast Tall Coconuts – Not to be outdone, these coconut cultivars can give as many as 80 coconuts a year, and grow up to 100 feet – a full 10 feet taller than their Eastern Coast cousins. Their coconuts aren’t as full of refreshing water, but packed with more oil, making them a great fit for so many California bohemian beach towns.

  • Jamaican Tall Coconuts – Much like its beaches, people and music, the Jamaican Tall coconut tree is known to be particularly beautiful, standing a proud 100 feet tall with broad, dark green arms for fronds. Its coconuts are equally striking, coming in rich bundles that can range anywhere from green to classic brown, and yield some of the coconut world’s firmest, freshest-tasting meat.

But no matter their size, we’re just happy that in most cases, the coconut doesn’t fall far from the tree.


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