The Different Types of Coconuts: Counting the Categories

October 2, 2023

If you thought that there was just one kind of coconut, think again! There are actually two types of coconuts and several variations of coconut trees.

Now, you may be wondering what the types of coconut trees and drupes may have to do with nutrition. Well, it turns out quite a lot! It was only as I was completing my degree in clinical nutrition did I realize that there are actually various species of this plant. And, that the exact kind that you chose gave you a different kind of health benefit.

Below, you can find out exactly what these kinds of trees are as well as how they differ from one another. I will also breakdown how they can vary in nutrition. Let’s begin learning!

How Many Types of Coconuts Are There?

The same genetic study that identified where some coconuts originated from discovered another interesting fact.

It was found that there were two different kinds of coconuts. These are known as Niu kafa and Niu vai.

The Niu kafa has a more triangular shape and is oblong with a more fibrous husk. The Niu vai boasts a rounder shape and contains sweet coconut water.

men carrying coconuts

Brown Coconut vs. Green Coconut

Some people mistakenly believe that brown and green coconuts are different coconut varieties.

However, they both belong to the same species and tree.

The only variation is that green and brown coconuts are at different ripening stages. Green coconuts are young and haven’t ripened as yet. Brown coconuts, on the other hand, are fully matured.

Green coconuts don’t contain a great deal of meat yet. Instead, most people crack them open to enjoy the delicious liquid inside.

Brown coconuts don’t have much water, but they do contain a thicker layer of meat which has a higher fat content. 

Types of Coconut Trees

There are two distinct types of coconut palms. These are known as the dwarf and the tall varieties.

However, several trees fall under each category.

Also, for agricultural and commercial purposes, you can find hybrid varieties.

Here is some information about each type along with a list of their uses.

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coconut trees

Dwarf Varieties

As the name suggests, dwarf varieties are smaller than other trees. They are often between 5 and 7 meters in height.

These trees also flower at an earlier stage, reaching regular bearing in the ninth year. However, they can flower as early as in their third year.

The coconuts from these trees are smaller and have a rounded shape.

These trees can live up to 40 or 50 years.

Tall Varieties

The tall varieties can grow as tall as 18 meters, perhaps even more. They have a longer lifespan as well, often living up to 90 years.

This variety has a later flowering period and they may only be able to bear fruit after 8 or 10 years after they are planted.

The fruits have a spherical or oblong shape. 

Hybrid Varieties

As mentioned, hybrid varieties are suitable for commercial purposes.

This is because they have an earlier flowering period and a far higher yield than their parents.

Not to mention, they tend to produce more copra and oil as well. 


Coconut is often considered a versatile tree in many cultures. This is because virtually every element of it can be used by the local population.

One of its most well-known uses is the oil derived from the flesh. The desiccated form of the flesh can be submerged in water and used to produce coconut milk.

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The coconut water can be used in a couple of different ways. While it can be drunk straight away as a refreshing beverage, it can also be fermented.

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When coconut water is fermented it can form vinegar or alcohol.

Many tourist destinations are associated with coconut palms. Due to this, it isn’t unusual to find numerous trees around holiday resorts.

The leaves from the coconut tree can be woven to make baskets and similar containers.

The husk of the coconut can be incorporated into coir, brooms, and mats. The shell can be turned into charcoal or broken up for jewelry. 

Related Reading
Coconut Benefits: Your Guide to All the Health Advantages of the Drupe
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There is so much to know about the genetic and physical makeup of coconut and coconut trees.

As you can see, there are two main types of coconuts and coconut trees. However, the hybrid can be considered yet another type.

An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.
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