Niu Leka (Cocos nucifera cultivar)
Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii
Coconut trees are popular in the tropics, but they can prove problematic in public areas and around houses. The standard coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) grows quite tall. This makes harvesting the coconuts rather difficult, and it also creates a hazard when coconuts and dead branches/fronds spontaneously drop from the trees. Both the nuts and the palm branches are heavy and can injure people or damage property when they drop. (I once saw a branch from a tall coconut tree drop onto a parked car, seriously denting the roof!)
One solution is to choose a dwarf cultivar of the coconut tree. The one pictured here is known as Niu Leka. This variety is said to have originated in the South Pacific. As a result, it is sometimes called either the Fiji Dwarf, or the Samoan Dwarf (take your pick!). Regardless of which common name you choose, it is a cultivar of Cocos nucifera. The ones we see locally in Hawaii, like the one in the photo, usually grow to a maximum height of around 20 feet, making the job of trimming them much simpler. The coconuts on these trees also are easier to reach.