I love Coconut; everything about it is extreme. And, of course, there is more to this fruit than is apparent in most Markets. People likely know that the hard, brown, and hairy globe sold in stores as a coconut is incomplete; it’s missing the thick, tough husk. Like your head, a Coconut has sutures! There are three of them. Those sutures tell us that this single, hollow fruit is made of three segments (carpels). You can also determine that from the three “eyes” at its tip, one of which can be penetrated easily. Lurking just inside that weak spot is the embryo, which given the right circumstances would germinate and grow into a palm tree.
We used to expect fresh Coconuts to show up around Christmas, but anymore I’m able to find them year round, somewhere near the fresh fruit and vegetables, though there is no predicting the location. There is also little predicting they will be fresh and edible. Be sure to jiggle and check the heft of store coconuts; they are often dried out and spoiled because Grocers seem to consider them more as ornaments, and pay no attention to their shelf life.
Systematists, of course, know these are fruit of palms and would group them with Peach Palm and Palm Oils. Carpologists consider the Coconut a one-seeded fruit, with an outer husk and an inner, very hard fruit wall. I have heard people call Coconuts Drupes, but the official term for this kind of fruit is a Nuculanium. To me, the outer fruit wall of a Drupe needs to have a soft texture, which is not the case with a Coconut husk.
People who have cracked open a coconut know that one of the three “eyes” is easily penetrated, while the others are hard. That is the point people puncture to drain the coconut water (juice) inside. In the photographs, you can see that small embryo, which forms below the soft “eye” through germination is possible.
As a curiosity, I learned recently that coconuts are used to train students how to cut open a cranium for autopsies and dissection studies of human anatomy. The trick is learning to cut through the skull without damaging soft underlying brain tissues.