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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Mystery of island coconut bounty
A coconut which was found on a Tiree beach
Coconuts may have been washed from the Caribbean to Tiree
The discovery of coconuts on the beaches of a Hebridean island has prompted calls for further research into the increase in such finds.

One of the coconuts was found on a visit to Tiree by the head of palm research at Kew Gardens, Dr Bill Baker.

After calling for islanders who had found coconuts to come forward, he learned that 10 had been discovered.

Dr Baker said the exotic fruits may have been carried to Tiree in the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean.

He now hopes any future coconut finds will help him to research how the plant spread across the world.

Dr Baker, who has considered the possibility of commercial growing in the UK, said he would like to see if he could germinate a coconut found on Tiree.

"When I found one I was struck by the unlikeliness of it because I'm a palm person and here I am in the Hebrides finding coconuts," he said.

Dr Bill Baker
Dr Baker hopes to learn more about coconut dispersal

"But it was also a very interesting and odd thing to find.

"With more recordings and more investigation of what the coconuts actually look like and where they might have come from we might get a clearer picture of their dispersal pattern."

Artists Colin and Susan Woodcock, who run a gallery on Tiree, found a coconut while they were walking on the beach.

Mrs Woodcock said: "When the palm expert took it to Kew gardens and other people showed an interest we were amazed because we didn't realise the significance of finding a coconut on the beach.

"It suddenly occurred to us that a wild coconut was a really significant thing."

The couples' coconut has been afforded the protection of the National Heritage Act and is now a permanent fixture in the prestigious collection at Kew Gardens.

A palm expert speaks about his find

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