The plant models didn't photograph well, due to the dim light, glaring glass, and lack of likely appeal of subject matter to the rest of the world. However, I couldn't resist taking this picture of a coconut model:
|Coconut model at the Field Museum.|
Coconuts are the fruits and seeds of the coconut palm. A complete coconut is green or brown, oblong and bigger than a football. The brown woody thing in the produce section is the innermost part of the fruit plus the seed of the coconut. The whole fruit is made of layers of fibrous husk called coir. The fruit is less dense than water, so it floats. You may have noticed that the scratchy brown doormat outside your front door is made of coir. Coconut palms often drop their fruit where waves can wash them into the ocean, and the fruits can then be dispersed out around the world to grow somewhere else. The outermost two layers of the fruit are removed before whole coconuts are brought to our stores.
|Field museum coconut model with labels.|
If a coconut escapes consumption by a human and floats off to a new land, it will begin to germinate. The embryo enlarges into a root and a shoot, and it escapes the hard coconut shell through structures called eyes that look like dimples on the surface of the coconut. As the embryo starts to grow, it forms a mass inside the coconut called a coconut apple. The mass is soaks up the nutrients from the endosperm and transfers those nutrients to the growing shoot and root of the embryo. The coconut apple is also edible - in fact it's considered quite delicious, though I have unfortunately not tasted it.
Writing about coconuts is definitely making me want to conduct some field research about the gastronomic virtues of the various stages of coconuts! Anyone up for a Caribbean vacation?