Bending But Not Breaking: Why Do Coconut Trees Lean & Bend Towards the Sea?
Soft, pillowy, white sand. Crystal clear water gently touching your feet. Up above blue skies and right in front of you are lush, green coconut trees leaning towards the sea with leaves slowly swaying with the ocean breeze.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
This is pretty much what you could expect when you make your way to a tropical island. A picture perfect view that feels like a dream — one that a lot of people travel across the world for, just to see and experience it for themselves.
Bent Coconut Trees As Natural Island Wonders
In places like Siargao island in the Philippines, known for its endless coconut tree views, some tourist spots came to be thanks to uniquely bent coconut trees that served as natural wonders of the island.
Places like Maasin River or the famous hike up Corrigedor Island feature an extremely bent coconut tree that people could easily walk or climb on — and in the case of the one in Maasin River, people can even swing or jump from it into the river.
These are just 2 of the hundreds, if not thousands, of coconut trees that are uniquely and extremely bent or leaning on this island—whether it’s leaning towards the ocean, or simply bent in a sea of straight and upright coconut trees.
It’s definitely a sight to be seen, not to mention a blessing to the local communities. But these bent trees weren’t just there by luck. There’s an actual scientific explanation behind it, and it’s called “phototropism.”
What Is “Phototropism”?
Phototropism can be simply defined as a scientific phenomenon where a living organism reorients its growth towards a source of light. In other words, these coconut trees lean and bend at extreme angles because of their need for sunlight to foster growth and sustenance.
This explains why there are a lot of leaning and bent trees in a jungle of coconuts. Some are trying their best to get whatever sunlight they can amidst a dense forest.
But what about those trees that can be found by the shore leaning towards the ocean? The answer to that is pretty simple, too. Trees bend toward the sea because water reflects sunlight.
Of course, there are other factors at play in the leaning of coconut trees. One is weight, another can be attributed to naturally occurring elements like wind, storms, etc. But during the growing years, which is around 3 to 6 years, a coconut tree's orientation will rely heavily on its need for sunlight, making “phototropism” the main cause for how it leans or bends.
Have you ever seen a curved coconut tree? Let us know where in the comments!
Article and photography by Mary Dizon.