Cocoa, or Cocos, L. a native tree of the East and West Indies, where it is of the greatest use to the inhabitants. It frequently grows to the height of 60 or 70 feet in the trunk, and delights in a moist bandy soil, especially near banks of rivers and the sea-coast, where it is propagated by planting its ripe and fresh nuts, that generally come up in the course of six weeks or two months. From these delicious nuts is prepared the well-known beverage called Chocolate, to which we refer. - Each branch produces from ten to twenty nuts, which, when half ripe, contain a sweet milky liquor, well calculated to quench thirst, and of great service in many diseases of a putrid and inflammatory tendency. If the nuts are allowed to become ripe on the tree, this liquor hardens into a kernel, which is partly eaten raw, and partly expressed and converted into an oil, that forms an important branch of trade in the Indies. Of the sap, obtained by incision from the spatha, or flower-sheath, the natives prepare wine, vinegar, arrack, and sugar.
The leaves of the cocoa-tree are upwards of ten feet long, and thirty inches broad. It presents a constant succession of blossoms and fruit, nearly throughout the year : its trunk serves for timber and cabinet-ware ; from the leaves are manufactured, baskets, hats, sail-cloth, mats, parasols, shingles for covering houses, paper, etc.