Wednesday 18 November, 18.30 - 19.30
No other plant has played such an important role on the human stage as the coconut. The tropical nut has long been the unseen player in the endeavours of industrialists and bomb makers, physicians and silversmiths, smugglers and snake charmers. In his talk, Robin Laurance looks beyond the cooking oil and myriad beauty products, to expose the little-known adventures of the palm and its fruit. Here are William Bligh of the Bounty and William Lever of the consumer products giant Unilever, President Kennedy, Imelda Marcos and Pope John Paul II, all bound in history to the coconut. Here too are the electric buses of China, the gas masks of World War II and Oxford's ambulances, all of them carrying various quantities of coconut charcoal. Coconuts have been around for longer than Homo sapiens and yet they continue to shape the world we live in.