Earlier than you learn the remainder of this text about Caribbean coconuts, I need you to do me a favor:
1. Get into a snug place
2. Shut your eyes
3. Let your self get good and relaxed, virtually to the purpose of napping
4. Think about you might be one a heat Caribbean seaside
5. Discover that picture in your thoughts for some time
6. Upon getting your picture memorized, open your eyes
Now, what precisely did you see in your psychological picture of a heat Caribbean seaside?
Did your picture embrace coconut palm timber? Did you scent coconut oil?
I am betting you probably did as a result of that is what most individuals consider when they consider a Caribbean seaside. Powder white sand, blue-green water shimmering within the daylight, and people iconic coconut palm timber fringing the size of the seashores.
Coconut palm timber are a lot part of everybody’s imaginative and prescient of a Caribbean panorama, they assume they have been all the time there.
However… guess what?!
They’re NOT truly native to the Caribbean they usually have been there lower than 500 years!
They have been launched to the Caribbean area by the Spaniards and different European colonizers through the first half of the 1500’s. Nevertheless, Christopher Columbus and his males by no means noticed a coconut in any of their Four voyages to the New World. These happened between 1492 and 1504. Coconuts merely weren’t there after they obtained there. They got here later.
I do know this may occasionally sound a bit of stunning. You might be saying one thing like, “However… I assumed coconuts may resist the erosion of sea water and have been buoyant sufficient to drift for 1000’s of miles. Proper? Is not this how they obtained to the Caribbean and everywhere in the world? They floated there from someplace else, proper?”
Effectively, I do know that is what many individuals imagine. Actually, that is what some historians believed. Nevertheless, the proof proves this to be incorrect — and it does so very definitively.
Not one of the earliest recorded information of the Spaniards, and the information of different colonizing European nations that have been exploring the Caribbean within the late 1400’s and really early 1500’s, ever point out a coconut. Furthermore, there was no Taino phrase or Carib phrase for coconut — these have been the native folks of the Caribbean Islands and if anybody knew in the event that they have been there, they’d have identified. A local phrase for coconut is absent as a result of coconuts didn’t exist earlier than the Spaniards introduced them there. Most linguistics imagine the phrase coconut comes from the Spanish phrase for “monkey” as a result of they thought the coconut appeared like a monkey face with two eyes and an open mouth.
Now, the Spaniards DID truly uncover coconuts on the WEST coast of Central America. For a very long time, the historical past books and different historic accounts mistakenly stated that coconuts had unfold from the west coast of Central America over into the Caribbean. Nevertheless, genetic proof very convincingly proves this to be completely fallacious!
It seems that whenever you run DNA evaluation on coconuts everywhere in the world, they fall into 2 distinct and separate genetic groupings. They’re all one species however the 2 teams are genetically totally different sufficient they are often simply separated.
One group of coconuts originated within the Pacific Indonesian area. The opposite group of coconuts originated close to India on the Indian Ocean. The one place the 2 teams appeared to have blended is on Madagascar. It has been very convincingly confirmed that the coconuts which are discovered on the WEST aspect of Central America are within the Pacific Indonesian group and that the coconuts discovered within the Caribbean are within the group from India. Subsequently, the coconuts within the Caribbean did NOT originate from the west coast of Central American.
Should you play historic detective, it appears that evidently coconuts from India have been first taken by folks or by currents to the east coast of Africa. Then a lot afterward, within the 1500’s, they have been moved by folks throughout to the west coast of Africa after which quickly after this occurred, they have been taken to the brand new world by the colonizers and/or the missionaries of the day.
As an attention-grabbing aspect notice, I want to point out that it’s thought that coconuts on the west coast of Central America have been introduced by the seafaring Polynesians greater than 1000 years earlier than Columbus “found” the New World. Now, that’s one thing to ponder! By no means take one thing written in a historical past textual content ebook because the gospel. It’s virtually sure now that Columbus was NOT the primary non-native to “uncover” America.
Okay, again to the Caribbean coconut story:
As soon as the Europeans “found” the coconut, they rapidly realized that this is able to be a quite simple approach of carrying sterile water (coconut water) and vitamins aboard ships heading out on lengthy journeys throughout salt water the place recent water could be scarce and infrequently turned contaminated.
Coconuts have been planted within the Caribbean since a minimum of the center 1500’s as there are written report of this. Typically they have been planted across the margins of the sugar plantations to offer water and meals to those that have been working within the plantations. It wasn’t till just a few centuries later that coconuts have been grown on a big scale industrial foundation as a money crop.
Now, I do know this may occasionally sound off-topic however please indulge me for a second as a result of I have to let you know about ship wrecks earlier than I proceed with the story about Caribbean coconuts:
There have been many ship wrecks within the 1500’s, together with the very well-known incident the place a complete fleet of Spanish ships loaded with gold sank as they tried to make it by means of the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico throughout a horrible hurricane. Actually, the Mona Passage is famend for ship wrecks because it was tough sea situations to navigate, even underneath one of the best climate situations. Actually, the Mona Passage might be tough to navigate even at present with fashionable know-how. Many males have misplaced their lives on this space as many ships have wrecked there.
So, why am I speaking about ship wrecks once I must be speaking about coconuts?!
Effectively, it seems that coconuts unfold all through the Caribbean in a short time because of ships transferring by means of — i.e. the ships moved them round far quicker than currents ever may have. Actually, when there have been ship wrecks, there could possibly be many 1000’s of coconuts thrown overboard in a model new place for coconuts. As these coconuts got here ashore, a few of them absolutely took root naturally. Nevertheless, because it seems, it was pretty widespread for the folks within the Caribbean area to deliberately take the coconut bounty given to them by the ocean and plant them. On this approach, a lot of the coconuts would survive to supply one other coconut plant. Actually, that is precisely what occurred in West Palm Seashore Florida and the way it obtained its title. A ship wrecked offshore sending out just a few thousand coconuts which the folks within the space planted as they got here ashore.
The most well-liked trip vacation spot within the Dominican Republic is now on the east coast and is named Punta Cana. Actually, not simply the unique little group of Punta Cana however your complete 39 miles of jap shoreline is usually known as Punta Cana or the Punta Cana Coast. Nevertheless, early traders within the space dubbed it, “The Coconut Coast.” This was due to the very lush and really mature coconut palm forest that strains the shore on this area and truly prolonged pretty far inland. You’ll nonetheless typically see the phrase, “The Coconut Coast” used.
I’ve no definitive proof however I can not assist however assume that these coconut palm timber lining the Punta Cana coast and that vacationers so take pleasure in will be the descendants of coconuts misplaced throughout a ship wreck way back. The coconut palm tree grove there may even be from an previous ship wreck as way back because the 1500’s. In a approach, you could be viewing an historic marker for a ship wreck whenever you gaze upon these coconut timber!
The subsequent time you might be within the Dominican Republic or elsewhere within the Caribbean and also you see a coconut palm tree, bear in mind that you’re NOT a plant native to Caribbean. Attempt to shut your eyes and picture what the Caribbean panorama would appear to be with out coconut vegetation. It is more durable to do than you could assume! We’re so conditioned to think about coconuts as being synonymous with the Caribbean. Maybe it’s a good lesson to all the time hold questioning issues, irrespective of how sure we’re they’re true.