What is the purpose of water in the coconut seed? The reason I ask this is that I was reading about coconut water and all the benefits it has for us Humans. But why does the tree put a liquid in the seed? I read a lot more and learned that the liquid becomes a solid and is called endosperm, which is food for the coconut tree. I'm still not happy with that answer because all seeds are food for the plant they become. They are also a lot more.

I have come up with a very good explanation for the existence of coconut water and I want see if anyone else has any ideas. Remember, I am not trying to find out why there is food in the shell. That's obvious.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi! "I have come up with a very good explanation" -- you should post it here, members will be able to tell you what biology prevents your explanation or supports it $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2019 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's because the coconut is hollow and designed to travel on the sea for more than 100 days and 3000km. At sea, the sunshine and the salt has a strong drying effect on the coconut, so fresh water helps it resist sun and the osmotic force of the seawater. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2019 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ I like your thinking. I agree with your points on the design allowing the coconut to survive for 100 day and 3000 km. But if you think about it, all the nutrition, including the liquid is inside the endocarp. Protected from those environmental dangers. The Exocarp is very thick and robust and the endocarp is made of a hard woody material, which is why I am not convinced that your answer is correct. Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. $\endgroup$
    – Coco nut
    Feb 15, 2019 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ I will give my explanation after I feel that enough time has been given to this community of thinkers. I really respect other people's points of view and am sincerely interested in seeing if anyone else can come up with my solution. $\endgroup$
    – Coco nut
    Feb 15, 2019 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Since we talk about travelling on sea, maybe it is simply a reserve of freshwater for when the tree will start to grow if rain is absent in the first days. As you said most seeds have a reserve of food for the newborn plant, this one just has a reserve of freshwater as well in case the coconut ends up on an island surrounded by saltwater. It might also matter the way water affects how the cononut rolls, moves or falls from the tree. or maybe it helps the coconut resist impacts ? $\endgroup$
    – Manuki
    Mar 6, 2019 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


It is a transitory state.

During coconut development the "milk" actually starts as a spongy solid a multinucleate endosperm. As the coconut develops it absorbs this tissue. Because of a coconuts hard structure this leaves a cavity since the coconut cannot change shape as the tissue density changes, some fluids including oils are left behind as hte tissue is broken down and reabsorbed. But this fluid will be reabsorbed as the the developing cotyledon fills in the cavity. The fluid is a by product of the cavity but the the cavity is needed due to the unusual development of the coconut.

As a side note most comercial coconut milk is actually squeezed out of the solid endosperm.

  • $\begingroup$ That is the milk part, not the water part. $\endgroup$
    – Coco nut
    Apr 9, 2019 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Coconut They are the same part, commercial coconut milk is made in a different way, but then commercial cheese is one step away for plastic that does not mean much. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 9, 2019 at 19:55

Here are two things that I have not see anywhere else in my research on the subject.

First, I will explain why coconut trees at the edge of the beach seem to "reach" toward the sea, but usually go straight up when planted away from the beach. Then I will get to why the coconut tree puts a liquid in its seed.

The main purpose of many seeds is to to take themselves away from the parent to start a new life somewhere else (hopefully better). Just like us humans the coconut tree wants it's offspring to migrate. It uses the sea as the medium on which it travels. The coconut is too heavy to move toward the sea using wind or animals. It's also too tough for most animals to be able to get the nutrition locked inside it. So the tree, which in nature would most likely find itself on a beach, contorts itself so that it's "head" is above the sea and then it drops is seed in the ocean to travel and find a new place to grow and propagate. That would be my reasoning for explaining the commonly seen phenomenon of coconut trees leaning over the ocean.

So now that the coconut has started it's travels into the unknown, it needs to find a place to grow. The seed bobs up and down on the ocean until it lands somewhere. It could land on the same island or travel thousands of kilometers and land on another island or coral atoll or a sandbar. This is where the liquid comes in to play. The liquid which has been moving inside the coconut suddenly stops. After a certain amount of time the next step in it's growth is triggered because of the still liquid. Also, the cavity in the coconut keeps it from drowning.

That's it. The "water" is a "level" that tells the coconut when to "drop a root and send a shoot"

Let me know what you think.

  • $\begingroup$ I've edited your post to remove the bit at the top about being back and ready to talk about this. Thank you for contributing. We can see that you're back and have something to share because you posted! $\endgroup$
    – De Novo
    Mar 19, 2019 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like this post is mostly from your introspection about possible reasons. This is a great method for developing hypotheses, and can sometimes be a great place to start when a lot is known generally but not specifically, but in this case I suspect this is already better studied. Can you provide some references that support your conclusions? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 19, 2019 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ you are right to say that the post is based on introspection. I wanted to post this hypothesis on this medium because there are a lot of scientists that have knowledge pertaining to this subject. My research is not going to be as well founded as many of the people on here. I don't have any references to what I have hypothesized but would like to know if there is a better explanation. If you know anyone that has studied the subject extensively please make them aware of this post and let me know what they think. The thought came to me and I wanted to share it with the universe. $\endgroup$
    – Coco nut
    Mar 19, 2019 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ Then post it as a question not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 31, 2019 at 5:40
  • $\begingroup$ I have never heard a good explanation on why coconut water exists. My explanation is simple and makes sense. If you can reference a better explanation, please do so. $\endgroup$
    – Coco nut
    Apr 9, 2019 at 17:19

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