Coconut palms grow in abundance in the tropics but Wikipedia says “the origins of this plant are the subject of controversy, with most authorities claiming it is native to South Asia (particularly the Ganges Delta)…”
What is it exactly? “The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the nut of the coconut palm.”
How young or mature a coconut is determines how it is best eaten and its uses in cooking.
The very young coconut above with its thin, translucent meat — so thin and translucent that the husk shows through — is best scooped from the husk and eaten directly or stirred with the coconut water for a refreshing drink.
The meat of the coconut above is thicker but still tender. This is the texture that is best for making desserts like buko pandan.
The meat of the mature coconut above can be grated and served as an accompaniment to rice cakes or squeezed to extract coconut cream and milk.
(Photos from Stock.Xchng)