Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera L.) is a member of the family Arecaceae and a native of the Old World tropics. As a portable source of both food and water, the coconut played a critical role in the ability of humans to voyage, establish trade routes, and colonize lands in the Pacific Rim and regions throughout the Old World tropics. This species continues to have hundreds of uses as a source of food, drink, fiber, construction material, charcoal and oil (used in cooking, pharmaceuticals, industrial applications, and biofuel). While the coconut fruit is naturally adapted for dispersal by sea currents, its pantropical dissemination was achieved with the help of humans. 
The species was spread to eastern Polynesia and subsequently introduced to the Pacific coasts of Latin America, most likely by pre-Columbian Austronesian seafarers from the Philippines. In the Indian Ocean, the composition of coconut populations was likely influenced by Austronesian expansions westward to Madagascar. Later, coconuts were introduced by Europeans from India to the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America and to the Caribbean. The species is typically found in areas of present or past human activity, and all or nearly all coconut populations worldwide have likely been influenced by human cultivation and dispersal. Strong evidences confirm independent domestication events in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. Indeed Cocos nucifera is a native species of both the Oceans, with a long-standing evolutionary presence in the two basins.

Cocos nucifera is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. Coconuts are generally classified into two general types: tall and dwarf. On very fertile land, a tall coconut palm tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year, but more often yields less than 30, mainly due to poor cultural practices. Given proper care and growing conditions, coconut palms produce their first fruit in 6-10 years and it takes 15-20 years to reach peak production.