I told you so.
This seed comes from the double coconut (Lodoicea maldivica), a palm endemic to the two islands of the Seychelles.
The palm is known for its gigantism. Female trees can grow up to 25 m (82 ft.), while male trees can grow up to 30 m (98 ft.). Female trees bear a single branch of four to eight fruits, each of which contains a seed. Just one bootylicious seed can weigh up to 40 lb.
Because the Seychelles were originally uninhabited, the double coconut’s origin was unknown for hundreds of years. The seeds were thought to come from a fantastic palm tree at the bottom of the ocean, leading to the common name “coco de mer”. The monarchs of the Maldives used the seeds ritually as an aphrodisiac. Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II tried to buy one for 4000 florins, more than the cost of a palace, and was turned down.
Because Lodoicea maldivica grows on nutrient-poor sandy beaches, it’s surprising that the tree produces such gigantic seeds. One team of scientists posited that the double coconut’s petioles, the part of the plant that connects leaves to stems, acted as gutters down to the base of the palm. They found that the plants funneled water, debris, and waste from a large area, and that the soil near the base of the palm had high levels of organic matter. Thus, double coconuts are effectively nourished by a stream of bird, snail, and lizard feces. A truly erotic thought!
Sources & Further Reading:
“Coco de mer.” Encyclopedia of the Biosphere, edited by Ramon Folch i Guillén and Josep M. Camarasa, Enciclopedia Catalana, SAU, 2000, p. 354. Academic OneFile.
Edwards, P.J., Fleischer-Dogley, F., Kaiser-Bunbury, C.N. 2015. The nutrient economy of Lodoicea maldivica, a monodominant palm producing the world’s largest seed. New Phytologist 206.3: 990–999.