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How slow plants make ridiculous seeds

Coco de mer palms go extravagant on a tight budget

1:10pm, May 1, 2015
man holding coco-de-mer nut

HUGE SEEDS  The iconic shape of a coco-de-mer nut that intrigues a traveler (shown) won’t show up on a tree. It’s evident only once the outer green husk is stripped off.

The secret behind the world’s largest seed and its sexually extravagant plant is good gutters.

A prodigy among those seeds can weigh as much as 18 kilograms, about the weight of a 4-year-old boy. Yet the plant that outdoes the rest of the botanical world in the heft of its seed manages with below-poverty nutrition. Coco-de-mer palms (Lodoicea maldivica) are native to two islands in the Seychelles that have starved, rocky soil.

Despite the scarcity of resources, a palm forest is “magnificent — it’s like a dinosaur could come around the corner,” says Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury of the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Wind jostling acres of stiff leaves makes a sound he describes as “crackling.”

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