By R. Bourdeix, V. Saena Tuia and Alofa Leuluaialii

This website returns the information collected during two scientific visits conducted in 2001 and 2010, on behalf the Ministry of Agriculture of Samoa, the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network, the Secretatiat of the South Pacific Community, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Bioversity International and the French Centre for Agricultural Research and Development. The objective of the second visit was to secure the conservation of the famous Niu Afa cultivar, the longest coconut in the world.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

List of coconut varieties recorded in Samoa in 2001

The following list gives an update of coconut cultivar names in Samoa. It was extracted from the 2001 report of Dr Bourdeix’s first visit in Samoa.

• Niu Afa. The international name and abbreviation are “Niu Kafa Tall Samoa (NKFT)”. Accession number WS003 at Olomanu seed garden. Although the Niu Afa coconut was very probably created in Samoa, its international name is “Niu Kafa Samoa” because of historical reasons (the name Niu Kafa was given before). Anyway Niu Afa is commonly used in Samoa.

• Niu Ati. The international name and abbreviation are “Tahiti Red Dwarf (TRD)”. Ati means husk can be removed with teeth. The young husk of TRD is not sweet and cannot be chewed (tasted by R. Bourdeix). Niu Ati will be retained as local name or synonym, although confusion may exist.

• Niu Ini-Ini. This local name does not correspond to any international name. It was recorded in Savai Island and by Christophersen (1935). May be Niu Tea, Malayan Red Dwarf but not sure, description is closer to Samoan Yellow Dwarf. “Tea” means orange according to V. Tuia.

• Niu Kogau, Niu Tau’ave and Niu Sasave. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoan Tall Spicata” (SMOT02)”. This special form of coconut was collected from American Samoa. “Kogau” will be retained as local name or synonym. See Christophersen, 1935 for a more complete description in oldest messages of this blog.

• Niu La’ita or Niu Laaika. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoan Yellow Dwarf (SYD)”. Recorded in the PRAS survey made by E. Siaosi in Falelima village (Savai Island). Said by Christophersen (1935) to be a dwarf with numerous small fruits of a light yellowish brown color. Husk of the young fruits can be chewed, but is not very sweet.

• Niu Le’a Dwarf (big fruits). The international name and abbreviation are “Niu Leka Dwarf (NLAD)”. It was initially described in Fiji.

• Niu Le’a Dwarf (Small fruits) . The international name and abbreviation are “Niu Leka Dwarf Samoa (NLAD02)”. First description of such a population in Samoa.

• Niu Lega. No international name. Recorded in the PRAS survey made by E. Siaosi in Vaovai village (Upolu Island). No more indication. May be Niu Le’a.

• Niu Mea. No international name. Recorded in the PRAS survey made by E. Siaosi in Vaovai village (Upolu Island). According to Christophersen (1935), this does not mean a special variety but only “Brown Coconut”.

• Niu Piu. No international name. Recorded in the survey made by E. Siaosi in Vaovai village (Upolu Island). No more indication. May be not coconut but Betel nut according to V. Tuia, (personal comm. 2001). Described as the Pacific island fan-palm, Prichardia pacifica Seems. by Parham, 1972.

• Niu Tau. No international name. Recorded in the survey made by E. Siaosi in Vaovai village (Upolu Island). No more indication.

• Niu Tauaga or Tauanga. No international name. Recorded in the survey made by E. Siaosi in Vaovai village (Upolu Island). Also cited by Parham, 1972 as a form used for fibers but different from the Niu Afa. fruits oblong, with almost parallel sides, fibres used as strainers for coconut milk (lolo); it seems to be extinct.

• Niu Taulua Sami. No international name. Cited by Christophersen (1935). No more indication.

• Niu Tea. Dr Valerie Saena Tuia told us that Tea means orange, so its first hypothesis was that this variety was an imported Dwarf; named internationally  “Malayan Red Dwarf”. But we found in the tradition of the Niue island that this was a coconut considered as medicinal, so this first hypothesis is probably wrong. See Polynesian tradition about the naming of Niue Island.

• Niu Tetea. No international name. Cited by Christophersen (1935). May be Niu Tea, Malayan Red Dwarf but not sure, description is closer to Samoan Yellow Dwarf.

• Niu Tongau. A kind of sweet husk coconut, cited by Christophersen (1935). No more available in Samoa according to K. Puono and all other people interviewed.

• Niu Vai. The international name and abbreviation are “Niu Vai Tall Samoa (NIVT). Accession number WS002 at Olomanu. Big round fruits selected as containers for water.

• Niu Rennell. The international name and abbreviation are “Rennell Island Tall (RIT)”. Comes from the Rennell island in Solomon archipelago.

• Samatau Tall. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoan Tall Samatau (SMOT01)”. Accession number WS004 at Olomanu Seed garden. This name was given in 1964 by Whitehead from the Coconut Industry Board of Jamaica.

• Samoa Green Dwarf. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoa Green Dwarf (SGD)”. Accession number WS008 at Olomanu seed garden. This variety is not really available in Samoa collection, where it appears as a mix of different types of green palms according to R. Bourdeix. The accession is better in Vanuatu germplasm bank.

• Samoan Tall. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoan Tall (SMOT)”. Accession number WS001 at Olomanu Seed garden. It was introduced in Solomon Islands in 1912, where the name was given. They are probably many populations selected by farmers, but this is not yet studied.

• Malayan Yellow Dwarf. This variety normally does not exist in Samoa. The international name and abbreviation are “Samoan Yellow Dwarf (SYD)”. The MYD produces fruits that are greener when young. Comparison in Vanuatu has clearly shown the difference.