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

Parham, 1972: varieties and forms of the coconut palm

NIU (R"588) Cocos nucifera Linn., (palmae)

Tall, monoecious palm, without spines; trunk rinbged with broad leaf-scars, often curved and leaning, up to 30m high or more; leaves 3-6m long, short and stourly peerioled, pinnate' pinnae numerous, linear, 50-70cm long, 5cm wide, acuminate at apex, shining, dark-green; inflorence arising from leaf-axils; spathe boat-shaped, more or less woody; spadix with numerous branches; staminate flowers 1-1.;2cm long, pistillate flowers 2.5cm across; fruit ovoid or ellipsoid, bluntly 3-angled, 20-30cm long, the fibrous husk 2-4cm thick; seed with hollow endosperm about 1cm thick, filled with clear liquid; cultivated and semi-wild; a plant with many uses, trunks and timber for building and bridges, leaves for baskets, fans and thatch, fruits for drinking, for culinary purposes, for copra and oil; many varieties, some introduced, are grown. Coconut palm. The following varieties are listed, mainly by Christophersen (1935,38)

• AFA: Large, long and narrow fruits with thick husk, favoured for making sinnet ('afa);

• ALAVA: fruits light green;

• 'INI'INI: fruits small, with thin shell and heavy kernel; a Savaii name recorded by Reinecke;

• LA'ITA: small palm with large clusters of numerous light yellowish-brouwn fruit, favoured for a fresh beverage; ornamental;

• LE'A: dwarf palm, with heavy butt and bole, and dense crown and large fruits; indigenous and introduced; dwarf coconut, Malayan dwarf, Fiji hybrid dwarf;

• TAUAGA: fruits oblong, with almost parallel sides, fibres used as strainers for coconut milk (lolo);

• TAUAVE: probably a distinct species, see NIU TAUAVE;

• TAULUA SAMI: small fruits, the shells strung in pairs and used to carry salt-water for making palusami (taro-leaf with coconut milk);

• TETEA: fruit ovate, medium-sized, in sub-mature stage, light-green to almost white; a distinct variety, rare; white coconut;

• VAI: fruits large and round, the shells being valued as water bottles;

• TOGAU: fruit with juicy husk, sweet and edible together with the shell and kernel, in the sub-mature stage.

The stages in development of the fruits of the coconut are determined by tapping with the knuckle, each stage having a descriptive name:


Diplothemium henryaanum F. B. H. Brown (Palmae) Palm, to 10-15m high; leaves pinnate, glaucous orn pale beneath; spadix simple, spicate, 100cm long, spathes 2; only female flowers seen, these crowded in spirals, bracteate, sessile; fruits few, 2-3 in each spadix, irregularly ovoid, obliquely simmetrical, about 16cm diameter, 26-28cm long, with a curved terminal beak; husk thin, nut about 12-14cm across; plant very similar in size and general appearance, to Cocos nucifera; but differing in the thick unbranced spadix, spirally-arranged flowers and the double spathe; rare in Samoa. So-called female coconut palm.

References from Parham, 1972

• BACKER, C. A. and BAKHUIZEN VAN DER BRINK, R. C. 1963 - 68: "Flora of Java", Walters Noordhoff N. V., Groningen.

• CHEESEMAN, T. T. 1925: "Manual of the New Zealand Flora", 2nd ed. Government Printer, Wellington.

• SHEESMAN, E. E. 1948: Classification of the bananas 111c and d. Kew Bull. 2: 145-147.

• SHEESMAN, E. E. 1949: Classification of the bananas 111m. kew bull. 2: 445-9.

• CHRISTENSEN, E. 1943: Revision of Pteridophyta of Samoa, Bull. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. 177.

• CHRISTOPHERSEN, E. 1935: Flowering Plants of Samoa, Bull. Bernice P. Bishop.

• Mus. 128.

• CHRISTOPHERSEN, E. 1938: Flowering Plants of Samoa, Bull. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. 154.

• DRAMEER, S. F. 1902-3: "Die Samoa-Inseln, Entwurf einer Monographie mit besponderer Berucksichtigung Deutsch-Samoa," Vol. 2 Schweizerbartsche Verlag, Stuttgart. Pp 359-88.

• MARTELLI, U. 1934: Samoan Pandanaceae, Occ. Pap. Bernice P. Bishop Mus.

• X(13)

• PARHAM, B.E.V. 1956: Noxious weeds, Laufasi Ola, Department of Agriculture

• Circular, Apia, 1(2 and 3).

• PARHAM, B.E.V. 1957: some Samoan plant names, Laufasi Ola, Department of Agriculture. Circular, Apia, 2(5 and 7).

• PARHAM, B.E.V. 1958: some Samoan plant names, Laufasi Ola, Department of Agriculture. Circular, Apia, 3 (5, 8 and 11).

• PARHAM, B.E.V. 1960: Annual Report for 1959, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Apia. 32pp.

• PARHAM, J. W. 1964: "Plants of the Fiji Islands," Government Press, Suva.

• PRATT, G. 1911: "Grammar and Dictionary of the Samoan Language," 4th ed., Malua Printing Press, Malua, Western Samoa.

• REINECKE, F. 1896: Die Flora der Samoa-Inseln, (1 Kryptogamen). Engl. Jahrbh. 23: 237-368.

• REINECKE, F. 1896 1898: Die Flora der Samoa-inseln, 9Siphonogamen), Engl. Jagrbh. 25: 578-708.

• SEEMAN, B. 1865-73: "Flora Vitiensis", Reeve, London.

• SETCHELL, W. A. 1924: "American Samoa", Vol. 20. Department Marine Biology Carnegie Institute, Washington.

• WRIGHT, A. C. S. 1963: soils and land use of Western Samoa. N. Z. Soil bur. Bull. 22: 34 (figs 22 and 23).

• SIMMONDS, N. W. 1957: Botanical Results of the banana collecting expedition 1954-5. Kew Bull. 1956: 463-89.

• YUNKER, T. G. 1945: Plants of the Manua Islands, Bull. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. 184.