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 snug place
2. Shut your eyes
3. Let your self get good and relaxed, nearly to the purpose of napping
4. Think about you’re one a heat Caribbean seashore
5. Discover that picture in your thoughts for some time
6. After you have your picture memorized, open your eyes
Now, what precisely did you see in your psychological picture of a heat Caribbean seashore?
Did your picture embody 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 give thought to a Caribbean seashore. 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 in the course of the first half of the 1500’s. Nevertheless, Christopher Columbus and his males by no means noticed a coconut in any of their 4 voyages to the New World. These passed off between 1492 and 1504. Coconuts merely weren’t there once they obtained there. They got here later.
I do know this may occasionally sound just a little stunning. You could be saying one thing like, “However… I assumed coconuts may resist the erosion of sea water and have been buoyant sufficient to drift for hundreds 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. In reality, 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 data of the Spaniards, and the data 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 seemed 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 flawed!
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 combined is on Madagascar. It has been very convincingly confirmed that the coconuts which are discovered on the WEST facet 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 case you play historic detective, plainly 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 facet 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 nearly 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 scarce and sometimes grew to become contaminated.
Coconuts have been planted within the Caribbean since no less than the center 1500’s as there are written document of this. Generally 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 whole fleet of Spanish ships loaded with gold sank as they tried to make it via the Mona Passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico throughout a horrible hurricane. In reality, the Mona Passage is famend for ship wrecks because it was tough sea situations to navigate, even below one of the best climate situations. In reality, the Mona Passage could be tough to navigate even right this moment 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 ought to be speaking about coconuts?!
Effectively, it seems that coconuts unfold all through the Caribbean in a short time resulting from ships shifting via — i.e. the ships moved them round far quicker than currents ever may have. In reality, when there have been ship wrecks, there could possibly be many hundreds 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 frequent 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, many of the coconuts would survive to provide one other coconut plant. In reality, 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 preferred trip vacation spot within the Dominican Republic is now on the east coast and is known as Punta Cana. In reality, not simply the unique little group of Punta Cana however the complete 39 miles of japanese 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 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 am unable to assist however assume that these coconut palm timber lining the Punta Cana coast and that vacationers so get pleasure from often is 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, chances are you’ll be viewing an historic marker for a ship wreck whenever you gaze upon these coconut timber!
The subsequent time you’re within the Dominican Republic or elsewhere within the Caribbean and also you see a coconut palm tree, keep 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 appear to be with out coconut vegetation. It is tougher to do than chances are you’ll 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 preserve questioning issues, irrespective of how sure we’re they’re true.