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Coco de Mer

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Exotica, Natural History & Works of Art

Coco de Mer

This very large nut retains its original textured surface

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Coco de Mer

Seychelles

First Half of the 20th Century

Height 42.5 cm Width 26 cm (16.75 x 10.25 in)

The Coco de Mer is the largest seed in the world and unique to only two of the islands of the Seychelles, Praslin and Curieuse. This rarity takes six to seven years to mature and another two to germinate and so is now a protected species.

Until the true source of the nut was discovered in 1768 it was believed by many to grow on a mythical tree at the bottom of the sea; European nobles in the sixteenth century would often have the shells of these nuts, washed up on distant shores, cleaned and decorated with valuable jewels as collectibles for their private galleries.

Sailors who first saw the nut floating in the sea imagined that it resembled a woman's buttocks which fanciful association is reflected in one of the plant's archaic botanical names, Lodoicea callipyge; callipyge stems from Greek words meaning 'beautiful rump'.

1651/2960

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