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The Coconut Tree I The Tree of Life

5 January 2024

Did you know that the coconut tree is an incredible natural resource?

Here in Lombok, coconut trees are considered ‘TREE OF LIFE’, providing lots of essentials to the local population.

Having lived in Lombok for over 15 years, my parents and I have grown increasingly fond of coconuts!

Locals in Lombok consume the fruit, drink its water, and talented local craftsmen utilize the shells to create beautiful bowls, straws, and other items we like to call ‘Cozy Things from Lombok.’ The versatility of the coconut makes it incredibly sustainable and beneficial for our environment.



With a life span of 60-80 years, the coconut tree is considered a ‘three-generation tree’ as it can support a farmer, his children, and his grandchildren. The tree is slow to mature, bearing coconuts in six to 10 years.



Why the coconut tree is considered, besides the ‘three-generation tree’, as well as the  ‘Tree of Life’ & ‘The Giving Tree’?

Because all the parts of the entire tree – from top to bottom – are used to sustain human life. It must be the most useful tree in the world, bar none. The coconut is found in many parts of the world. And on the top 10 coconut producers in the world; Indonesia!

The variety of edible products derived from the coconut palm qualifies the tree for VIP — Very Important Plant — status. But wait; there’s more. As the Indonesians say, ‘ … There are as many uses for the coconut palm as there are days of the year … ‘


The outer layer is called the husk, which is a hard, fibrous layer; it is the source of coir which is used to make products from our hotel collection like coco brushes, coco cutlery and coco doormats. But as well to make garden fertilizer for our organic gardens, to make fishnets, fuel, hollow blocks, insulators, mattresses mats, ornaments, ropes, wall boards etc.

The second layer under the husk is the shell which covers the meat inside; the shell can be burned to make fuel or charcoal, or used to make bags, baskets, cups, frames, jewelry, lamps, ornaments, pots, purses, serving dishes, trays, etc.
Activated carbon, which is made from its charcoal, is used in air purification systems.

Inside the shell, the core of the coconut, are the meat and coconut water (or coconut juice). The meat is grated and squeezed to produce coconut milk, which is used in cooking a whole gamut of dishes, from appetizers to main courses and desserts; it is also made into candies, chips and flour.

The meat also produces The Lombok Lodge Hospitality Virgin Coconut Oil, which can be used not only for cooking, but also to make butter, crude oil, margarine, pomade, soap, and shampoo.

The thin liquid inside is the coconut water or coconut juice, and should not be confused with coconut milk (which is extracted from the meat). The water from the young coconut (buko) makes a refreshing drink when chilled, and is said to help balance the electrolytes in the body.

The water from the mature coconut (niyog) is not as pleasant-tasting, and is used to make vinegar, alcoholic drinks, nata de coco, etc. It is a fact that during the Pacific War of the 1940s, coconut water was used as emergency plasma transfusion to wounded soldiers.

“Inflorescence” is the arrangement of flowers on the stem or twig of a plant or tree. The coconut tree’s bouquet of inflorescence is a beautiful thing to behold. The unopened flower buds are the source of coconut sap, which is used to make alcoholic drinks (tuba and lambanog), honey/nectar, sugar, vinegar, sugar, yeast, among others.
There can be about 5 to 12 seeds in the inflorescence which could mature into coconuts.

The leaves are woven into roofs and walls; they are used in cooking to wrap food and rice cakes, and in handicraft to make bags, balls, fans, hats, etc. Dried leaves produce good-quality paper pulp. The sturdy ribs are used to make brooms, placemats, window shades, etc.

The heart of palm, or pith, which is found inside the upper trunk of the tree, is edible, and can be made into many delicious dishes. This is a prized part of the tree because you have to chop down the tree to get the pith.

The trunk of the tree is made into lumber for building construction and making furniture, jewelry, ornaments, and shampoo. The bark is also used in making paper pulp.

The roots are made into rope or twine, and can be used for making beverages, dyes, medicines, etc.



Some would say that a coconut is basically a nut, as the name ‘coconut’ might suggest, while others claim that it is a fruit or a seed.

From a strictly botanical point of view, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe; in other words, a dry drupe. A drupe is basically a fruit in which a fleshy part is encompassed by the hardened outer part, which houses a seed inside. A drupe has three layers: the exocarp (the outermost ‘hardened’ layer), the mesocarp (the ‘fleshy’ middle part), and the endocarp (the hard layer surrounding the seed). Other examples of drupes are mangos, almonds, peaches, plums, and cherries.

A coconut, however, can also be called a seed since the seed is the reproductive part of a flowering plant. A seed is essentially a ‘baby plant.’ If you look at one end of a coconut, you see three black pores, also called ‘eyes.’ One of these pores gives rise to the sprout. Thus, a coconut is by definition also considered a seed.

Finally, it is also a nut, as a loose definition of a nut is nothing more than a one-seeded ‘fruit.’ This definition gives coconuts a dual identity, allowing them to be classified as fruits and nuts.

So, once and for all, a coconut can be a nut, a seed, and a fruit, and all at the same time.



Coconut is a very popular beverage, especially in the day and age of diets and healthy lifestyles. It’s rich in electrolytes, helps you stay hydrated, and contains a good dose of essential minerals as well as vitamins. But since it’s made with coconuts that are known to be rather caloric, is coconut water fattening? Will drinking a lot of it lead to weight gain?

Coconut water isn’t very caloric, so it shouldn’t cause weight gain as long as you drink it in moderation. Unlike water, it does contain some calories, but it’s a less caloric and much healthier alternative to some other electrolyte beverages and sports drinks. What’s more, adding some coconut water to your diet can help you reap some wonderful health benefits aside from hydration.

How many calories are in a single serving of coconut water? One cup of freshly made coconut water contains around 46 calories. Most of these calories come from carbohydrates and the rest from fat and protein. Considering how many health benefits drinking coconut water brings you, a single glass isn’t too caloric.As a result, you should be perfectly OK drinking coconut water from time to time without worrying about any side effects on your weight. In addition, coconut water is 94% water, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. This means that it doesn’t increase your risk of diabetes and won’t lead to plaque formation in your blood vessels.

Unlike most fruit juices, coconut water is relatively low in calories and sugars, making it a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet.



Aside from being incredibly hydrating, coconut water is rich in several minerals, especially potassium.

This mineral helps flush out extra sodium from your body through urine. High sodium levels in your body are bad for your cardiovascular system and may increase your risk of high blood pressure and strokes. So, drinking beverages rich in potassium can be beneficial in lowering your blood pressure and preventing strokes.



Did you know that Coconut Trees produce 12 to 14 leaves in a year? By counting number of leaf scars above ground one can estimate the age of a palm. Add one or two years depending on the depth of planting.

Now that we resolved the identity crisis of our beloved Lombok coconuts, it’s time to enjoy one as a delicious, healthy reward! Cheers!

Safety Tip: Don’t nap under a coconut tree – the heavy nuts fall without warning!

Happy Holiday!

Olivier J. Olaerts

Student of EHL Lausanne
École hôtelière de Lausanne
Hospitality Management School in Switzerland


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