I love the geometric forms of palm leaves. They have an almost art deco quality that I'm inspired to capture in print. A little while ago we visited the Seychelles and I was excited to visit the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve – a lush palm forest on Praslin – where I knew there would be plenty to visually feast upon.
But while we were there it was the story of a very large nut that stole our attention. Not the coconut, but the coco de mer. These nuts were on display and celebrated everywhere in the Seychelles but we hadn't really thought about their provenance until then.
First of all, you have to appreciate how ridiculous these nuts look. They're the largest nut in the world, but their size isn’t the most interesting thing about them. Out of their shells they look like a woman’s belly and thighs (or the other way round depending on what your eyes are telling you). Coco de Mer trees only grow in the Seychelles – on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse – and for a very long time the existence of the Seychelles wasn’t known. But these huge suggestive-looking nuts would float great distances and wash up on shores around the Indian Ocean. No one knew where they came from. They inspired stories and legends of love. In the Maldives if you found one you had to give it to the King or face execution. They were coveted in Arabia and Europe.
Eventually, when the Seychelles were discovered, the mystery was solved and the coco de mer lost its mythical value. But they are a protected species today due to their rarity and it's illegal to eat the nut.
However, I think their crazy history is satisfying enough!