Earlier than you learn the remainder of this text about Caribbean coconuts, I would like you to do me a favor:
1. Get into a cushty place
Shut your eyes
three. Let your self get good and relaxed, virtually to the purpose of napping
four. 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 embody coconut palm bushes? Did you odor coconut oil?
I'm betting you probably did as a result of that is what most individuals consider when they give thought to a Caribbean seaside. Powder white sand, blue-green water shimmering within the daylight, and people iconic coconut palm bushes fringing the size of the seashores.
Coconut palm bushes are a lot part of everybody's imaginative and prescient of a Caribbean panorama, they assumed they had been all the time there.
However … guess what ?!
They aren’t really native to the Caribbean they usually have been there lower than 500 years!
They had been launched to the Caribbean area by the Spaniards and different European colonizers throughout the first half of the 1500's. Nonetheless, Christopher Columbus and his males by no means noticed a coconut in any of their four voyages to the New World. These passed off between 1492 and 1504. Coconuts merely weren’t there after they obtained there. They got here later.
I do know this may occasionally sound slightly stunning. You could say one thing like, "However … I assumed coconuts might resist the erosion of sea water and had been buoyant sufficient to drift for hundreds of miles." Is just not this how they obtained to the Caribbean and all around the world? ? They floated there from some place else, proper? "
Properly, I do know that is what many individuals imagine. In truth, that is what some historians believed. Nonetheless, 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 had 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 had been the native individuals of the Caribbean Islands and if anybody knew in the event that they had 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 seemed like a monkey face with two eyes and an open mouth.
Now, the Spaniards DID really uncover coconuts on the WEST coast of Central America. For a very long time, the historical past books and different historic accounts mistakenly mentioned that coconuts had unfold from the west coast of Central America over into the Caribbean. Nonetheless, genetic proof very convincingly proves this to be completely fallacious!
It seems that if you run DNA evaluation on coconuts all around 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 proved that the coconuts which can be 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. Due to this fact, the coconuts within the Caribbean did NOT originate from the west coast of Central American.
In the event you play historic detective, it appears that evidently coconuts from India had been first taken by individuals or by currents to the east coast of Africa. Then a lot in a while, within the 1500's, they had been moved by individuals throughout to the west coast of Africa after which quickly after this occurred, they had been taken to the brand new world by the colonizers and / or the missionaries of the day.
As an fascinating aspect notice, I wish to point out that it’s thought that coconuts on the west coast of Central America had been purchased 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 e book 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 might 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 scarcely and infrequently turned contaminated .
Coconuts had been planted within the Caribbean since no less than the center 1500's as there are written document of this. Typically they had been planted across the margans of the sugar plantations to provide water and meals to those that had been working within the plantations. It was not till a couple of centuries later that coconuts had been grown on a big scale business 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 must 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 whole fleet of Spanish ships loaded with gold sank as they tried to make it by way of the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico throughout a horrible hurricane. In truth, the Mona Passage is renamed for ship wrecks because it was troublesome sea situations to navigate, even underneath the perfect climate situations. In truth, the Mona Passage may be troublesome to navigate even immediately with trendy expertise. 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 ?!
Properly, it seems that coconuts unfold by way of the Caribbean in a short time because of ships shifting by way of – ie the ships moved them round far sooner than currents ever might have. In truth, when there have been ship wrecks, there might be many hundreds of coconuts thrown overboard in a model new place for coconuts. As these coconuts got here ashore, a few of them had been fairly taken root naturally. Nonetheless, because it seems, it was pretty frequent for the individuals within the Caribbean area to intentally take the coconut bounty given to them by the ocean and plant them. On this approach, a lot of the coconuts would survive to provide one other coconut plant. In truth, that is precisely what occurred in West Palm Seaside Florida and the way it obtained its identify. A ship wrecked offshore sending out a couple of thousand coconuts which the individuals within the space planted as they got here ashore.
The preferred trip vacation spot within the Dominican Republic is now on the east coast and is named Punta Cana. In truth, not simply the unique little group of Punta Cana however your complete 39 miles of japanese shoreline is often known as Punta Cana or the Punta Cana Coast. Nonetheless, early buyers within the space dubbed it, "The Coconut Coast." This was due to the very lush and really mature coconut palm forest that traces 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 cannot assist however assume that these coconut palm bushes lining the Punta Cana coast and that vacationers so take pleasure in often is the descendants of coconuts misplaced throughout a ship wreck way back. The coconut palm tree grove there might even be 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 if you gaze upon these coconut bushes!
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 taking a look at a plant native to Caribbean. Attempt to shut your eyes and picture what the Caribbean panorama would seem like with out coconut crops. It's tougher to do than you could assume! We’re so conditioned to think about coconuts as being harmonious with the Caribbean. Maybe it’s a good lesson to all the time hold questioning issues, regardless of how sure we’re they’re true.