The tree grows to 25–34 m tall. The leaves are fan-shaped, 7–10 m long and 4.5 m wide with a 4 m petiole. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The male flowers are catkin-like, up to 1 m long. The mature fruit is 40-50 cm in diameter and weighs 15–30 kg, and contains the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The fruit, which requires 6-7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate.
Formerly the Coco de Mer was known as Maldive Coconut. Its scientific name, Lodoicea maldivica, originated before the 18th century when the Seychelles were uninhabited. In centuries past the coconuts that fell from the trees and ended up in the sea would be carried away eastwards by the prevailing sea currents. The nuts can only float after the germination process, when they are hollow. In this way many drifted to the Maldives where they were gathered from the beaches and valued as an important trade and medicinal item.
Native to, Seychelles
The main populations of coco-de-mer palms are found within the Praslin and Curieuse National Parks. Cultivated palms are grown on a number of other islands. It formerly also was found on St Pierre, Chauve-Souris and Ile Ronde (Round Island, an islet near Praslin) in the Seychelles group, but has become extinct on these islands.