Today, September 2, is World Coconut Day. I did not know that such an observance existed till reading Malayali’s best friend – The Coconut in Maddy's Ramblings. To commemorate the day, I am publishing this photograph which I took at Olavipe in August.
The photo captures a strange scene. A sapling is growing on the stump of an old coconut palm that had been cut down. Usually, such stubs are good only for use as firewood or, in rare cases, for carving (see Coconut wood sculpture: Stump to sheep). It does not grow. In other words, it is considered as dead wood.
Here, the sapling did not originate from the stump. A coconut which somehow got lodged on the remains of the felled palm sprouted and caught on. Either someone placed it there and forgot to collect it later. Or it could have been stuck there while falling from a nearby coconut tree. Anyway, nobody noticed it till the seedling was prominently visible. Judging by the size of the sapling, the coconut would have been there for more than two years.
The plant looks very healthy. How does it get nutrients since it has no direct contact with the ground? The inside of a coconut tree stump turns into pith and can accommodate roots. But the outer wood is very hard and there is no way by which the roots of the new plant can break through it to reach the soil.
Last month the Agriculture Officer for our area came to inspect this strange phenomenon. Her conclusion was that some of the roots of the stump were still active. They draw nutrients from the ground and pass them on to the sapling. I suppose she is right. Can you think of any other explanation?
How long will the sapling survive in this strange life support mode? Will it grow into a big palm? Will it yield coconuts, say, eight years from now?
Who knows? We will have to wait and see.
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