our love hate relationship with the coco tree

our love-hate relationship with the coconut tree

One of the headaches of living in Mexico is the constant garden maintenance. Whether you have a full yard of greenery or a few pieces of decorative trees at the edge of your property, anticipate maintenance as a year round requirement here.

One of the most notoriously loved / hated trees in these tropical parts are the cocoas. While lovely to look at and truly tropical, they are a lot of work. Since everything here grows year round, we tend to have a fast growing season and then a really fast growing season, which are during the summer months when both the heat and humidity sky rocket at the same time.

When you have mature trees here, they’ll start producing fruit and they rarely stop. Cocoa trees produce year round and if left untrimmed, will produce an over abundance of cocoas. I can hear some of you cheering out there, but as a local, this is the last thing you want.

An over abundance of cocoas in any public place means potential disaster. Living here, you often (and I mean really often) hear them fall from several-meter-tall trees to splat on the street below.

When they land, they crack open (to the joy of ants everywhere), releasing the water inside. The danger is being under them. Cocos release from the trees without warning and can land on anything below, including you and vehicles.

Over the years I’ve had many fall near me, landing on the ground with their familiar thunk! I’ve also seen many cocoas take out windshields. If you have a tree on your property and a cocoa lands on a car, it can be costly.

Cocoa meets car windshield

Homeowners and landowners spend a lot of money to get rid of these troublesome cocoas. Even where I go camping, the trees are rid of their fruit before a tent is allowed underneath, regardless of how young/old the cocoas are because again, they release without warning. I got here before the cocoas were cut, so they had to do it with my tent in place.

Guys cutting cocoas from a tree my tent was pitched under. They had the longest ladder I’d ever seen!

During the nights, there are a lot of animals that crawl up the trees to enjoy what they can of the smaller cocoas, which often end up on the ground since they’re only attached to the tree by a thin cord. Fat furry animal gnawing at a cocoa cord long enough, or trying to hang from it, often results in the cocoa breaking free and falling.

By law, you are also not permitted to cut down cocoa trees. Well, not just cocoa trees, any tree more than a meter in height unless you have a permit (such as for construction or the tree is infected or it’s already dead).

My neighbor recently came back from holidays to find his loaded with cocoas. Two guys arrived with machetes and a truck to tend to the usual cutting of the trees. You can see (in the main photo) how only three or four palms were left on each tree and all the cocoas cut. There are more than four dozen laying on his lawn, but don’t worry. They don’t go to waste.

More than 40 cocoas were cut from his two tall trees

A few of us passing by opted for fresh cocoa water (since he was cutting). You just need a guy like this with a machete like that to lop off the top until he hits the center. Once there, a small hole appears where you can drink the water.

With an incredibly sharp machete, he cuts the top until he reaches the center where you can drink the water.

After that, you can also cut the cocoa open and spoon out the soft white meat inside, a personal favorite of mine. The cocoas are hauled away and consumed by the guys who cut the trees. While tourists pay to have cocoas, the locals pay to get rid of them!