coconut tree

Cocos nucifera
Ha’ari (S, T, A), Niu (S, T), 'Ehi (M)

Interesting facts

Roots (‘a’a): employed in medicinal recipes to treat sprain and fractures (intern)

Trunk: used in construction, furniture, canoes...

Bark: traditional medicinal care

Leaves (ni’au): woven to make roofs, baskets, bags, mats

Fruit : The coconut water is a beverage and can be used in traditional medicine as an excipient to convey active principles of other plants. The coconut flesh is edible and very rich in fatty acid, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A and E, zinc and copper. The coconut milk is made with the flesh of mature nuts, by grating and pressing. It’s used in Polynesian food, to cook fermented meals like the “mitihue” or the “taioro” for example, but can also be employed to prepare a well known oil; monoi. This oil has many medicinal and cosmetic properties: hydration, purging, conditioner, anti-dandruff, anti-stretchmarks, intimate hygiene, healing, spot care… It is also used to replace fuel. In the past this oil was exploited as a light source, and to embalm dead persons. Lastly,  many objects can be made with the coconut: bowls, plates with the shell, or even jewellery and ropes with coconut-fibre.



Biogeographical status

Polynesian introduction

Life form


Abundance on Tetiaroa

very abundant

Ecosystem on Tetiaroa

mixed forest, beach (lagoon side), shallow channels (hoa)


Butaud J.F., Gérard J., Guibal D., 2011. Guide des arbres de Polynésie française, bois et utilisations. 2e édition, Au vent des îles.

Barrau, 1971. Useful plants of Tahiti. Société des Océanistes, Paris, Dossier 8.

Jost X., Ansel J.L., Raharivelomanana P., Butaud J.F., 2016. Ethnobotanical survey of cosmetic plants used in Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.


S: Society | T: Tuamotu | M: Marquesas | G: Gambier | A: Australs | FP: French Polynesia