Coconut Tree Vs Palm Tree: Key Differences

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The coconut tree (cocos nucifera) and palm tree (arecaceae) may have some similarities, but they are not the same. There are distinct differences between the two types of trees.

Of the numerous differences, the significant difference is that the coconut tree is a type of palm tree, while all palm trees are not coconut trees. This means coconut trees produce coconut fruit, while palm trees produce palm fruits though not all palm trees. Aside from that, there are other differences between coconut and palm trees.

In this article, we shall explain in detail the difference between the coconut tree vs palm tree!

Let’s get started!

Coconut Tree Vs Palm Tree: Major Differences

The core differences between a coconut tree and a palm tree lies in the following;

  • Fruit Production
  • Trunk shape
  • Leaves
  • Height
  • Growth Speed
  • Root Depth And Spread
  • Lifespan

1. Fruit Production

To differentiate between a coconut tree and a palm tree, the first feature to look for is their fruits. 

Coconut Tree

Generally, coconut trees produce coconut. This is made of a fibrous kernel—a husk containing water and meat. The meat is the whitish and fleshy part known as copra.

At the early stage of growth, this copra is usually a milky fluid. Additionally, coconut fruit can be used to produce other valuable substances like coconut milk, oil, water, and even cream.

Palm Tree

It is worth noting that not all palm trees produce fruits. The most common palm trees that have fruits are date palm, oil palm, and queen palm trees.

However, there are other palm fruits from palm trees apart from oil palm fruits. They are; peach palm fruits, saw palmetto, betel palm fruit, jelly palm fruits, dates, and acai palm fruits.

2. Trunk Shape

After checking on their fruits, the next feature to consider is the shape of their trunks. A tree trunk is the part of a tree that is woody from which the branches grow.

Coconut Tree

The coconut tree trunk is light grayish-brown. It has a crown of leaves at the top. The coconut tree trunk has a more delicate texture and is less scaly when compared to the palm tree.

Palm Tree

The trunk of a palm tree is cylindrical and bulging in shape. It can also be smooth and rough and may contain fibers.

That notwithstanding, the exact trunk shape of a palm tree is dependent on the variety or species of the palm tree.

3. Leaves

In the differentiation and identification of coconut trees and tree trees, the leaves are other features you must consider. Let’s evaluate each tree’s leaves.

Coconut Tree

Coconut trees have pinnate leaves that are broad. The leaves are about 13-20 inches with a lanceolate shape. These leaves sprout from the branches and are medicinal in curing muscle pains.

Palm Tree

The leaves of a palm tree are called fronds. They are fan-like in shape and have sections that grow outwardly from their primary branches. 

Additionally, they can grow up to 10 feet. This depends on the type of palm tree, as there are different varieties of palm trees.

4. Height

We can not talk about the differences between coconut trees and palm trees without mentioning their heights. If you find it hard to distinguish both trees through the features, we listed earlier, you may have to consider their sizes.

Coconut Tree

Coconut trees are relatively tall, but they are not the most elevated of palm trees. They grow up to a hundred (100) feet and average 60-80 feet. Yes, they are that tall.

Also, habitat and climatic conditions play a significant role here. We will explain more in the subsequent sections.

Palm Trees

At the beginning of this article, we made it clear that all coconut trees are palm trees. The only difference is the presence of coconut.

Generally, palm trees grow as tall as two hundred (200) feet with an average of thirty (30) to fifty (50) feet in a lifetime. This greatly depends on the palm tree itself.

Meanwhile, wild palm trees grow taller than the ones grown around residential areas. This is because the latter needs to be maintained and, if allowed to develop independently, would be challenging to maintain. 

5. Growth Speed

Another factor differentiating coconut trees from palm trees is the growth speed of each tree. However, it would be best if you were observant enough to figure this out.

Coconut Tree 

Coconut trees grow well in warm and wet tropical climates or islands. This means they can bloom and develop well in any environment. 

Coconut trees grow about 1.5m in a year until they fully develop. 

Palm Tree 

The palm trees grow 2-3 feet per year. This depends on the type of palm tree. Generally, palm trees grow and develop well in a warm and tropical climate. 

This does not mean that they can not flourish in a wet climate. However, they can not survive too cold weather. 

6. Root Depth And Spread

We can also distinguish between coconut and palm trees through the depth and spreading of their roots. Generally, all palm trees have a fibrous root system. Let’s take a look at their differences. 

Coconut Tree 

A coconut tree has fibrous roots that go deep into the soil between 30 – 90cm. They are not as deep as other trees but are deep-rooted and not also shallow-rooted. 

Palm Tree 

We generally stated that palm trees have fibrous roots. They are too deep-rooted or shallow-rooted. Their depth is about 3 feet and spreads evening horizontally. 

Furthermore, it is incredible to know that the roots of palm trees grow horizontally instead of vertically. Amazing right? That is palm trees for you! 

7. Lifespan

By lifespan, we mean how long each tree lives or lasts. Yes, that is also a significant difference between coconut and palm trees.  Find out their lifespan below; 

Coconut Tree 

Coconut trees are often referred to as “three-generational trees.” This means they can live and serve three generations of a farmer or agriculturist. 

Coconut trees can live up to. 60-80 years. While generally producing fruits from 6-10 years. Yes, they are perennial plants. 

Palm Tree 

Palm trees generally are perennials. Date palm is the oldest palm tree and can live for about 200 years. 

Generally, palm trees have a lifespan of 70-100 years. 

Related Questions

In this section, we shall answer most of the pressing questions about coconut trees and palm trees. Do well to read down as we broaden your knowledge. 

Is a coconut Tree The Same As A Palm Tree? 

A coconut tree is a type of palm tree. It is one of the over 2,000 species of palm tree. The only difference between the coconut tree and other palm trees is that coconut trees produce coconuts. Again, the trunk shape, height, root depth, and climatic conditions of growth and development are other factors that differentiate them. 

Do Coconut Grow Into Palm Trees? 

Yes, coconut grows into palm trees, the most common fruit that grows from palm trees. However, the coconut tree is the only palm tree that bears coconut.

Between the Coconut Tree And Palm Tree, Which Is Taller? 

A coconut tree grows between 60 to 80 feet in height. And grows about 1.5 m per year. We have basically two types of coconut trees through which other varieties are obtained. They are tall coconut trees and dwarf coconut trees. Palm trees, on the other hand, grow from 20 to 30 meters. And 2-3 feet per year, depending on the species. 

Is A Coconut Tree A Palm Tree? 

Yes, a coconut tree is a palm tree and the only specie of palm tree that produces coconuts. There are also differences between the other species and coconut trees. The fruits, leaves,  lifespans,  height, and roots are distinct features of both plants. 

What Type Of Palm Tree Has Coconut? 

The coconut tree, scientifically known as cocos nucifera, is the only type of palm tree that produces coconut. It has two categories that form over 80 species of coconut trees. These categories are the tall coconut trees and the dwarf coconut trees. Aside from the height difference, the tall coconut trees cross-pollinate. Hence, the two categories. 

How Do I Differentiate Between Coconut Trees And Palm Trees? 

Before differentiating the two, you need to understand that the coconut tree is a type of palm tree and the only type that produces coconuts. 

To distinguish them, take a close look at the following; 

  • Fruit Production
  • Trunk shape
  • Leaves
  • Height
  • Growth Speed
  • Root Depth And Spread
  • Lifespan

These are what we explained earlier. For further clarification, you may have to reread it slowly. 

Bottom Line 

Coconut tree vs. palm tree has given many teeth. To distinguish between the coconut tree and palm tree, their broad and fan-like leaves are the next factor to consider in the absence of coconut in the coconut tree. 

We also elaborated on other areas which we are confident you are satisfied with. Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below. And yes, we shall respond to your questions swiftly.

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