Tree of Life
No island paradise is complete without emerald green palm trees gently swaying in the breeze, and a few coconuts strewn underneath ready to be cut open for a thirst quenching drink. As Trans Maldivian Airways flies you to the island of your dreams the view that unfolds below will leave you lost for words. The turquoise Indian Ocean fading into aquamarine lagoons that gently laps the sugar white beaches all topped off by the emerald green palms like the icing on the cake.
Maldivians place tremendous importance on the abundant coconut palms – they are represented in the national flag of Republic of Maldives by the green rectangle; the coconut palm is also the national tree.
Known as the ‘Tree of Life’, the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera L., or, Dhivehi ruh, as it is known locally, is considered to be one of the 10 most useful trees in the world. All parts of it can be used – there is no waste.
The coconut fruit is an important food source for people, animals and insects and is an essential part of Maldivian cuisine, the juice of a young fruit, ‘kurumba’, is a delicious, refreshing drink. The ripe coconut is used with dried fish, in short eats or as coconut milk. Leaves and branches are used in roofing; the branches are also used for making local brooms, essential for the daily sweeping of the roads and paths on the islands. Often in the resorts you can admire decorations, baskets and hats made out of these branches. Coconut shells are a good source of fuel keeping a fire burning for a long time. Starch can be extracted from the stem and made into flour. Fibres, called coir, are woven into mats, rope and bags and can also be used as padding in mattresses. Palm wood is carved into ornaments and the root can be used as a dye. The coconut and root are also used medicinally.
Once your Trans Maldivian Airways flight has landed at the island of your dreams see how many uses of palm trees you can spot – start off with: a natural sunshade whilst sipping a welcome cocktail!