The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed or the fruit, which botanically, is a drupe, not a nut. The term is derived from the 16th century  Portuguese and Spanish word coco meaning "head" or "skull", from the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. . Coconuts are generally classified into two general types: tall and dwarf.
    The first leaves of a coconut seedling have the pinnae fused together and appear as entire leaves. After eight to ten have been formed, subsequent leaves tend to split into leaflets. After about 3-4 years, the stem starts to form with a single terminal growing point where new leaves develop. Generally, a normal adult palm produces 12-16 new leaves annually, each bearing a corresponding flower cluster (inflorescence). There are about 30-40 leaves in a healthy crown with a similar number of leaf primordia, each differentiated about 30 months before it emerges as a 'sword leaf'. A mature leaf is 3-4 m long and has 200-250 leaflets. A leaf remains on the palm for about 3 years and thereafter, shed leaving a permanent scar on the trunk.
    The age of an adult palm is correlated with the number of leaf scars. The number of scars on the stem, divided by 13, gives the approximate age of the palm in years (Mahindapala 1991). This may be important in estimating the age of existing palms used as parent materials in breeding.
    Coconut leaves are plaited and used for thatching houses and sheds in rural areas. It is also used for thatching 'honeymoon huts' and such huts in town and cities. Technology is available with Regional Research Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala for extending the life of leaf thatch from one year to four years. Plaited coconut leaves are also used for making baskets, headgears and for erection of temporary fences. Plaiting of coconut leaves is a cottage industry in traditional coconut growing states. Midribs of leaves are...