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Coco de Mer adventures in the jungly hills of Curieuse

By Vivien Michel 1 year ago

Last week we restarted our special Coco de Mer surveys!

After we had already admired some examples of Coco de Mer palms, which are endemic to Praslin and Curieuse, in the Vallee de Mai National Park on Praslin we now have the chance of investigating those incredible trees ourselves on our familiar island Curieuse.

A few fascinating facts about the Coco de Mer, that contribute to the Coco de Mer expeditions being an unique and unforgettable experience:

  • Unlike the more common coconut palm, the Coco de Mer palm has separate female and male trees. Female ones bear the popular huge nuts which can weigh more than 20kg. Male Coco de Mer palms produce catkins that can reach a length of 50cm or more.
  • Coco de Mer palms develop very slowly. A female palm takes at least 25 years until it bears nuts, nuts take about 7 years to mature and just a single leaf takes about a year to unfurl…
  • Coco de Mer nuts are highly sought after; you have to pay a huge price to buy one. The nuts have been very valuable since the French discovered the Coco de Mer palm in 1768.
  • There is a funny myth about the Coco de Mer palms that on stormy nights female and male palms mate…
  • The Coco de Mer is classified as endangered. The population decline is estimated to be about 30 % in the last three generations.

Our exciting expedition begins at the edge of the Curieuse mangrove forest hiking up the hills. The challenge is to find somewhere in the jungle the right Coco de Mer trees, those which we monitor regularly as representatives for the whole Coco de Mer population on Curieuse.