Hokka Trees at Nagoa

Diu, Daman and Diu

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The Hokka Trees at Nagoa Beach are unique and are not found anywhere else in India. These trees (Hyphaene indica) are the sole Indian species of African genus that were brought by the Portuguese during their colonial rule. The fruits of these trees are edible and have medicinal properties.

The Hoka tree (Hyphoena indica) is also known as 'doum palm' or the 'gingerbread tree', and is a native of the Nile valley in Egypt and Sudan and the riverine areas of northwestern Kenya. The tree was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, evident from the discovery of Hoka seeds in several pharaoh's tombs.The fruit are traditionally offered at funerals.

Hoka tree and seeds are used for a variety of purposes. Egyptians use the thin dried brown rind for making molasses, cakes, and sweetmeats. Shoots of the germinated seeds are also eaten as a vegetable. In Egypt, the fruit is sold by street vendors, and is popular among children, gnawing its sweet yet sour hard fibrous flesh beneath the shiny hard crust. A herb tea of doum dates is made in Egypt and believed good for containing hypertension. It is also believed to be good for the heart.

Hoka palm trees are only found in Diu and some believe that the Portuguese bought them here. Some others believe that the western part of Gujarat (the Saurashtra region) broke away from the African mainland in the Triassic age. 

Interestingly, in Diu, there is an interesting belief around Hoka. People believe that Hoka seeds that are planted in one's own home germinate as males and do not bear fruit. These trees become female only when the seeds are planted by people in their friends home. The shopkeeper in Nagoa beach who described this vouched that it was a fact and can be tested by anyone.

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