What Are the Different Types of Coconuts?

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There are three different types of coconuts: tall coconuts (typica), dwarf coconuts (nana) and hybrid coconuts. The hybrid coconut is bred by intentional cross-pollination of both varieties.

Tall coconuts grow fast and naturally cross-pollinate. They may grow more than 1.5 feet (50 centimeters) annually and grow to between 65-70 feet (20-30 meters) high. Tall coconuts flower and produce their first fruits at six to 10 years and their economic life is between 60-70 years. They bear fruit throughout the year and average 40 fruits (nuts) per year.

Dwarf coconuts usually grow to 26-32 feet (8-10 meters) high after 20 years. They start flowering at three years when less than 1 meter (3 feet) high and bear fruit seasonally, with an average of about 80-100 nuts per year. They have an economic life of around 30-40 years and make up just 5 percent of all coconut trees in the world.

The hybrid coconut is another variety that can form naturally or be intentionally bred through cross-pollination. Hybrid coconuts are bred to reproduce the nut size of tall coconuts and volume output of dwarf coconuts. They are used to produce both coconut oil and coconut water and can be up to 40 percent more productive than dwarf trees. A combination of the Malayan Dwarf and Jamaican Tall breeds the MayJam, a hybrid variety that combines the sought-after characteristics of abundant fruit yield and fast-growing nature.