National Geographic : 1898 Jan
THE SAMOAN COCOANUT and even 80 feet, is smooth and bare like a mere pole support ing a head of nuts and sweeping branches. The trees come into bearing, in a small way, at the sixth year on suitable soil, and are believed to reach the full limit of pro duction at from 15 to 20 years of age. Many groves known to be 30 and 40 years of age are now bearing in undiminished abundance, and they so continue to do to a great age. Persons who profess to be able to determine the age of trees by the marks left on the bark where the branches have successively fallen esti mate in this way that many still vigorous trees are 70 and 80 years of age. Natives who are peculiarly intelligent in so many ways, but who appear to be, for reasons not difficult to under stand, peculiarly unable to keep account of time, say that the cocoanut tree will live on beyond a hundred years. In all prob ability they live to a considerably greater age on the beach lands when the trunk has escaped serious injury. Springs, while frequently met with, are not abundant, and for fresh water for all purposes reliance is had on the small streams coming down from the mountains. With few exceptions, the natives are not practical or provident enough to provide tanks for the storage of rain water, as is universal among the whites; indeed, the formation and material of the roofs of native houses would make it very difficult to catch rain water from such roofs. As villages are often at considerable distances from natural sup plies of fresh water, and as these in the dry months of May, June, and July often become exhausted, recourse is had to a very barbarous method of supplementing the supply of fresh water. Cocoanut trees nearly always incline at an angle more or less oblique. On what may be termed the upper side of the tree, or that opposite to the direction in which it inclines, large cup shaped notches, similar to those made in the long-leaved pine for turpentine purposes, are cut. With every shower the water trickles down the body of the tree ; being caught in these troughs or notches, it serves to fill the cocoanut drinking shells or bottles, the only vessels for holding water they employ; for, except in a few instances, they are slow to adopt buckets or other containin vessels common in civilized life. The cocoanut tree is capable of surviving a great deal of in jury ; in fact, it maintains its vigor despite such injuries as would be ruinous to most trees of the temperate climes. Trees are often seen flourishing in undiminished vigor, although notched half through in the way described in two and even three places.