Coco de Mer

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

coco de mer (sea-coconut) Lodoicea maldivica, a palm which grows only on certain of the Seychelles Islands and which bears huge (up to 20 kg/45 lb) fruits which take many years to ripen fully. These are sometimes called ‘double coconut’, because they usually comprise two lobes (sometimes more); but it is a misnomer because they do not closely resemble the true coconut. Trade is now strictly controlled.

The nut within the fruit is a rare delicacy, if eaten when the fruit is about 10 to 12 months old. At this stage it yields a translucent, jelly-like substance which has a melting consistency and a pleasant sweet taste. (If the fruit is left to ripen fully it will eventually, years later, have an interior as hard as ivory.)