Coco_de_mer_-_BOT.2007.26.21

Seeds are incredible structures occurring in sizes that range from that of dust to that of the Palm pictured here, Lodoicea maldivica, the Coco de Mer, a rarity limited to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, that forms the seed above that can grow up to 12” long and up to 40lbs within a truly massive fruit that can push the total weight to over 60lbs taking 6-7 years to mature!  This is a dioecious species with separate male and female plants, the males of which produce a catkin like inflorescence which can produce pollen for as long as 10 years!  It was once known under the name Lodoicea callipyge, from the Greek words meaning ‘beautiful buttocks’, I’ve always liked the more descriptive names rather than those linking a species to a botanically significant person.  With that massive endosperm much of the emerging seedling is large as well.  A tube forms between the seed and developing seedling that can be over 15′ long. The emerging cotyledon, its ‘seed leaf’, is the largest in the world at up to 14′ long!  Such a large endosperm also contributes to its ability to withstand stresses as seeds and seedlings vary as well having highly variable seed coats and dormancy, the ability to maintain their integrity while withstanding the conditions it may be exposed to.  Generally, in this species, each seed contains a single embryo.  Contrary to this there is little margin for error with tiny seeds and their proportionally tiny endosperm.  Most of the bulk of the Coco de Mer seed is endosperm…but, as in any seed, it is the embryo that contains the ‘magic’, the spark of life that will ignite into the seedling.

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