The Peculiar Case of the The East African Butt Nut

If someone were to ask you, “What is the world’s largest plant seed?” it would be understandable if your first response was something along the lines of “Who the hell are you and why are you so obsessed with seeds?”.  However, if you aren’t weirded out by random strangers shouting botany-related questions at you, you might also be forgiven if you answered ‘coconuts’ and felt pretty smug while doing so.

You’d also be wrong…  The seed of the coconut palm’s cousin, the coco de mer is approximately twice the size of the coconut, lending it one of its several nicknames, the double coconut. It is a really big nut, weighing in at to 75 lbs, which is equivalent to the size of about nineteen teacup poodles (which is a totally valid size barometer, thank you). It’s also known as the sea coconut, which, as a bit of an aside is odd, since, unlike a traditional coconut, the sea coconut is noteworthy for the fact that it does not float, limiting its range to just to a pair of small islands in the Seychelles, a group of islands off of the East African coast. But it’s not because of any of those boring nicknames that we’re learning about this plant today. It’s the OTHER nickname we’re interested in; the most commonly known nickname in fact. It’s because the coco de mer is most commonly known as…

…The Love Nut.  The seed of the coco de mer is known as the love nut, because it is the approximate size and shape of, well, a person’s posterior.  As you can imagine, just about any organic object that could in any way be described as looking like someone’s naughty bits has some appeal in certain Asian markets as an aphrodisiac and/or sexual enhancement. And naturally, any time Asian dudes are willing to pay a premium price for a little herbal perk in their pencil, it means that there are love nut poachers out hunting the Seychelles in search of some high quality nut booty. This means, that in addition to the fact that the butt nut is legally collected and exported as well as being geographically limited to just two islands because of its inherently un-floaty nature, the love nut is officially classified as ‘endangered’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Add to this the fact that the love nut tree is particularly slow growing and slow reproducing, taking up to seven years for individual fruit to mature and ripen followed by another one to two years for the seed to germinate, and it’s possible that we’ll be one of the the last generations to answer the question, “What is the biggest nut?” while giggling.

Save the Love Nut.