Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios – these are the food items that we relate to when we hear the word ‘nuts’. This general assortment of nuts has rendered our understanding of nuts to be something small and tasty, something that is the size of a pea. But what many of us don’t know is that there is a type of nut that is bigger in size than an average human head!
The coco de mer is the largest and heaviest nut in the world. Found exclusively on two islands in Seychelles, these seeds grow on the coco de mer palms with a diameter of half a meter and a weight of over 25 kilograms.
The outer shell of the nut is popular amongst the tourists visiting the islands for its usage as a souvenir. However, the inner kernel of the nut is popular in Asian countries where it is believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Due to its rarity and popularity, the nut is often the subject of poaching as it can be sold at a price of $450 to $750 per kilogram. Listed as a threatened species, the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change has incorporated several policies and security measures to ensure the safety of the nuts and prevent poaching.
So, if going to Seychelles is on your travel calendar next, don’t miss out this remarkable nut, the size of a human head while you are there. The plant grows naturally in the UNESCO world heritage Vallee de Mai nature reserve on the Seychelles island Praslin.
As it takes almost six to seven years for a fruit to mature and yet another two years to germinate into a new plant, only 1769 fruits reach maturity on an average every year. With a huge inflow of tourists coming in every year, this number is not nearly enough to satiate the demands of all the tourists. As a result, the nut is not generally available for the common people to consume as a food item.
“The Fruit Hunters” author Adam Leith Gollner has said that the coco de mer has a “mild citrus-like quality, refreshing and sweet with earthy, spunky notes. It tastes like coconut flesh, only sexier.”