kiwis and coconuts

Why is it that kiwis are furry and coconuts are hairy? That is, what evolutionary advantage does being unshaven offer a fruit?

Nitpick: kiwis, being members of the genus Apteryx, technically have “hairy” plumage. Oh… you mean kiwifruit. :slight_smile:

A number of prickly plants (and hair is just very fine prickles from that POV) use this as defence against insects that would eat them… that seems possible in the case of kiwifruit… not so sure about coconuts… which are more fibrous than hairy. Although, since the fibre gets turned into coir ropes and the like it is possible that they have been selectively breed (or at least selectively survived) over time.

BTW, the new cultivars of kiwifruit in NZ have significantly less hair, having been bred this way to please consumers… so hair may have been an advantage in the past, but not with current market forces. :slight_smile:

Kiwis are hairy because all mammals are hairy.

:: grins, ducks, and runs like hell ::

Remember that when you look at a coconut, you’re really only seeing the seed, extracted from its outer casing and the ‘hairs’ are the remnant of this casing; when they fall off the tree, coconuts are about the size and shape of a large melon and relatively smooth on the outside, the ‘nut’ being encased in a thick (perhaps as much as two inches) layer of tough fibres, this serves (at least )two purposes - it cushions the seed against possible breakage from the long drop off the tree, it also enables the fruit to float in water so that it can be dispersed by the ocean to colonise new areas.

Kiwi fruits, on the other hand, are bristly on the ‘real’ outside of the fruit - I’m not sure what the purpose of this is but it may be to keep small organisms (those that are too small to disperse the seeds) from eating it (the bigger your mouth is, the less likely you are to be bothered by the bristles.

I think you’ll find the plural of “kiwifruit” is still “kiwifruit” (one word, not two), Mangetout.

Oh, and Derleth? BWAHAHAHAHA! :smiley:

You may be right about the pluralisation, but the jusy still appears to be out on the one word issue - even the NZ government uses a mixture of terms. I’m pretty sure it is nearly always two words over here anyway. Certainly nobody calls them Chinesegoosberries.

They call 'em “zespris” here, or at least they’re trying to call them that, mangetout. If you have the division of two words for one, though, I can see where the business of “kiwi” as a reference to the fruit still holds strong.

Oh, and with Chinese gooseberries, the “Chinese” part of the common name describes where the “gooseberry” came from originally. “Kiwi” doesn’t describe the fruit’s origin, or appearance, terribly well, which is why, properly, it is “kiwifruit”.

These days, if someone tried introducing the ancestors of the cultivar developed in the suburb where I live (“Yay!”), the “Hayward”, they’d be tossed in the clink for bringing in a noxious weed. For this is what the vine truly is. In parts of the Bay of Plenty here, it’s choking native bush.

Sounds like the blackberries in Washington. My friend who lives there calls them “kudzu of the north”.

Am I not right in thinking that ‘kiwi’ (in reference to Actinidia fruits) is just a marketing term and fairly recently coined? (like Sharon fruit being the invented commercial name for a variety of persimmnon.

No, you’re incorrect. “Kiwi” is the shortened, colloquial version of the proper marketing term, which is/was “kiwifruit” (since the 1950s, and started by local marketing firm Turners & Growers.) The French preferred to shorten the name to “Le Kiwi”.

Now, the NZ exporters call it “zespri”. Why? I guess because it was there, and the shortened version of the proper name was getting on their wick.

1950 is what I would call recent in terms of naming a fruit.

It is, but they didn’t name it “kiwi”.

Oops, we are talking at cross purposes, I think and it is my fault; when I said:

it was nothing more than an attempt to avoid the previous issue of whether the name is one or two words (i.e. Kiwifruit or Kiwi Fruit).

Ah, okay. No problem. Yes, the marketing term “kiwifruit” is of recent origin, from mid 20th century. Actually, the fruit were still called “Chinese gooseberry” by the public here in NZ up until the early 1970s (personal recollection of mine from the schoolyard). :slight_smile:

Still doesn’t mean the fruit’s name is truly in two parts today.

Perhaps not officially, but I think it is nearly always labelled with two words here when offered for sale.

Even the Zespri International site uses a mixture of the two terms.

For some reason, ‘Kiwifruit’ (as one word) is something with which I am not quite comfortable (like ‘tunafish’), but I suppose there is little qualitative difference between it and ‘Blackberry’ or similar.

It’s all to do with what comes out of the marketers’ heads, Mangetout. And that’s a whole different story. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the discussion! :slight_smile:

Back to the original question, I did turn up a couple of references that posited two possible reasons for the hairiness of the aforementioned fruit, here is one of them:

Not a terribly satisfying answer and certainly not up to the standard we’re accustomed to.
…‘collects moisture’ - most plants go to some lengths to prevent the accumulation of water on the surface of their fruits, as this can encourage fungal attack.
…‘Layer of protection’ - Protection against what? - this is probably the right answer, but it could have been a little more specific. As far as I can see, the hairy skin could protect from animals, sunlight, water, abrasion/impact, extremes of temperature etc - we just need to find out which.

Just to maintain my facade of sanity, this is a typical product label from a punnet of kiwi fruit here in the UK.

Yes, I agree Ice Wolf, I remember as a lad being disappointed to find that the “gooseberries” the neighbour offered me were nothing like the chinese gooseberries I was fond of.

“Hayward” developed in your suburb… oh… HortResearch, of course. I have a friend who worked there for a long time – doing things with kiwifruit (making them disease resistant, I think) – though I don’t think he was directly involved with that development.

('Course, being a molecular biologist, he’s now “officially” an evil scientist). :slight_smile:

IIRC they changed the name of the kiwifruit to zespri after other countries began exporting the fruit as well. Zespri is copyrighted and kiwifruit isn’t.

Zespri’s a desperately awful name though.