Nestled in the Indian Ocean, the archipelago of Seychelles is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, lush rainforests… and the erotic Coco de Mer nut aka: the ‘Forbidden fruit’!
Shaped like a female’s bottom, the giant Coco de Mer nut is one of the most unique and sought-after botanical wonders on the planet, and it’s been capturing the attention of travellers and scientists for centuries!
In this article, we delve into the secrets of the Coco de Mer, exploring its rare characteristics, its elusive nature, and where to find it in The Seychelles!
What Is So Special And Unique About The Coco De Mer?
The Coco de Mer is a rare species of palm tree native to the Seychelles islands – the only place in the world where the Coco de Mer palm tree grows naturally!
This palm tree is unique for producing the largest seed on the planet – the Coco de Mer nut, renowned for its exceptional size and distinctive erotic shape – similar to that of a female’s buttocks.
The nut can weigh up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and measure up to 50 centimeters in diameter!
Another thing that makes the Coco de Mer palm tree so special is that it is dioecious – meaning it has separate male and female plants!
Biologists still do not completely understand how the pollination of the sensual Coco de Mer nut occurs, but legend has it that on a full moon, the male and female palm trees make love to one another!
Apparently, those who have seen it happen either died or went blind so your guess is as good as mine…
Why Is The Coco De Mer Called The Forbidden Fruit?
The Coco de Mer’s reputation as the “Forbidden Fruit” or ‘“Love Nut” originates from its sensual appearance.
The nut’s curvaceous and voluptuous shape resembles a female bottom or hips, which has led to many legends associated with temptation and sensuality.
The Coco de Mer was once believed to be the fruit of the Garden of Eden – the ‘Forbidden Fruit’ that Eve gave to Adam.
The Bible never actually stated the fruit was an apple like most people commonly think it was!
In fact, the stunning Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, one of the spots where you can find the Coco de Mer in Seychelles, is so beautiful that it was once believed to be the original site of The Garden of Eden!
The Coco de Mer can also be called the ‘Forbidden Fruit’ because Coco de Mer palms are incredibly rare, growing naturally only on two of the Seychelles islands.
Where to Find the Coco de Mer Nut in Seychelles
Within the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands, two islands are known for their natural Coco de Mer groves: Praslin Island and Curieuse Island.
Praslin Island (Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve)
The Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the best place to see the rare Coco de Mer palm and nut in its natural habitat.
The Vallee de Mai is an absolutely stunning rainforest, home to the largest concentration of Coco de Mer palm trees in the world, and is an absolute must-visit when in Seychelles.
You’ll be able to hold one of the Coco de Mer nuts and get a photo!
Praslin is one of the three main islands in Seychelles that are affordable and accessible to visit (the other two being La Digue and Mahe – the main island where the International Airport is).
Even if you have just a few days in Seychelles, a visit to Praslin Island is a must, not just because of Vallée de Mai, but also because of Anse Lazio – the world-famous beach that is one of the most secluded and beautiful beaches in the world!
Another Seychelles gem, Curieuse Island, has a population of Coco de Mer palm trees in a pristine setting.
Curieuse Island is also known as the place to see large colonies of the giant Aldabra tortoises! These giant tortoises are only found here on Curieuse Island and in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador!
Can You Buy A Coco De Mer Nut In Seychelles?
Yes – you can actually buy a Coco de Mer nut in Seychelles – as long as it’s from a government-approved store! As the cultural symbol of the Seychelles, this is the ultimate souvenir to bring home from The Seychelles!
Its unique shape is seen by many as a symbol of fertility and sensuality, and it certainly makes for an interesting conversation starter!
Buying a Coco de Mer nut will cost you a fair bit though, prices are around the $400 USD mark currently, although smaller ones go for less!
The nuts can take up to fifty years to grow and fall off the tree! They are then dried for ten years before they can be sold, so it’s definitely a special process!
If you do choose to buy a Coco de Mer nut, it is vital you buy it from a Government-approved store only as you need a proper registration for it!
Every single Coco de Mer nut is given an identification and green label, to stop illegal nut poaching. If the seller is not able to hand over the export license and Government seal papers to you, do not buy the Coco de Mer nut!
This is very important, it will be checked at the airport when you depart Seychelles, and without these papers, you won’t be able to leave the country, and will risk getting a severe fine or even imprisonment.
The Coco de Mers available to buy have had their kernels scooped out, so they can’t be planted anywhere else, meaning the Coco de Mer has been sawn in half and then glued back together.
Nevertheless, the shape remains intact and the line is not obvious.
Is The Coco De Mer Nut Edible?
Even though the Coco de Mer is edible, it is a highly protected species. This means it cannot be picked or eaten, and so getting the chance to eat a Coco de Mer is pretty much impossible!
All the Coco de Mer fruit on the branches of all Coco de Mer trees in Seychelles (even those on private land!) get tagged by local authorities, and those who break the law by picking the nuts face huge fines or even prison.
Conservation of the Coco De Mer In Seychelles
As the Coco de Mer is an endangered palm species, Seychelles has taken significant steps in terms of conservation, to protect the Coco de Mer from nut poachers and extinction.
Strict regulations are in place to protect the Coco de Mer nuts, making it illegal to harvest or export them without proper authorisation.
This legal protection is another reason why the Coco de Mer can be called the “Forbidden Fruit”.
The Coco de Mer nut, known also as the “Forbidden Fruit,” is one of the most mysterious treasures of the Seychelles. Its iconic shape, protected status, and intrigue surrounding it continue to draw visitors to the Seychelles island.
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!