Plant of the week: Derivatives in weight loss products and used to fight viruses

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Name: Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Otherwise known as: Tenga

Habitat: The tallest of the family Palmae, growing up to 20m in salty and sandy soils throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions. The tree has a slender trunk which is topped by a crown of pinnate leaves that may each achieve a length of 6m and resemble gigantic feathers. The flower spikes attain a length of 2m and produce the familiar nuts in clusters of 10 to 20 depending on available nutrients. The tree reaches maturity in its seventh year and will then yield fruit.

What does it do: The coconut is the most useful of all the palm family, providing food, oil, alcohol, fuel, textiles and building materials. Its name derives from the Spanish ‘coco’ meaning grinning face.

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