Coconut trees are grown in tropical countries mainly for the high oil content of the endosperm (copra), which is widely used in both food and non-food industries (e.g. margarine and soaps). Large production areas, in particular, are found along the coastal regions in the wet tropical areas of Asia in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. (See Table 1). In these countries millions of people make a living from the coconut palm and its many products.
Coir fibres are extracted from the husks surrounding the coconut (Figure 1). In most areas coir is a by-product of copra production, and the husks are left on the fields as a mulch or used as fertilizer because of high potash content. India and Sri Lanka are the main countries where coir is extracted by traditional methods for the commercial production of a variety of products, including brushes and brooms, ropes and yarns for nets and bags and mats, and padding for mattresses. However, world wide only a small part of the fibres available are currently used for these purposes (Table 2). The average fibre yield is dependent on geographical area and the variety of the coconut tree. In the south of India and Sri Lanka, for example, where the best quality fibres are produced the average yield is 80-90 g fibre per husk. Caribbean husks, by contrast, are relatively thick and may yield up to 150 g of fibre.
Coconut water can be used as an intravenous fluid (see PMID 10674546).
The coir (the fibre from the husk of the coconut) is used in ropes, mats, brushes, caulking boats and as stuffing fibre; it is also used extensively in horticulture for making potting compost.
Copra is the dried meat of the seed which is the main source of coconut oil.
The leaves provide materials for baskets and roofing thatch.
Palmwood comes from the trunk and is increasingly being used as an ecologically-sound substitute for endangered hardwoods. It has several applications, particularly in furniture and specialized construction (notably in Manila's Coconut Palace).
Hawaiians hollowed the trunk to form a drum, a container, or even small canoes.
The husk and shells can be used for fuel and are a good source of charcoal.
A young coconut palm
Coconuts are extensively used in Hindu religious rites. Coconuts are usually offered to the gods, and a coconut is smashed on the ground or on some object as part of an initiation or inauguration of building projects, facility, ship, etc.; this act signifies sacrificing ego, that wealth stems from divinity, and if due credit is not given, bad karma is taken on. In Hindu mythology it is referred as Kalpavruksha. In Hindu mythologies it is said that Kalapavruksha gives what is asked for.
A rare coconut Tree, with its tree trunk branching out into 2 sub trunks, in Bukit Timah Sector, Singapore