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The Vallee de Mai palm forest is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a living remnant of prehistoric forest and contains many coco de mer palms which are found only in the Seychelles.
- View over the Vallee de Mai, home to the coco de mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica)
The coco de mer is found only in the Seychelles and even there it is only found in the wild on two of the islands: Praslin, where the Vallee de Mai is located, and Curieuse.
- The female coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) with several maturing fruit visible
The fruit can take up to seven years before reaching maturity and falling to the ground. It can then take several months for the outer husk to rot away and the seed may take two years to germinate.
- Male coco de mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica) with distinctive catkins (flower cluster)
The male coco de mer can grow up to 35m tall.
- Green gecko (Phelsuma sundbergi) and white slug (Vaginula seychellensis) feasting on flowers
They are on a catkin (flower cluster) of the male coco de mer.
- The erotically shaped seed from the female coco de mer palm, with the male catkin inbetween
The inset photo (bottom left) shows the husk of the coco de mer nut, inside which the seed is found. It is the largest seed in the world; it can weigh more than 20kg!
- Tenrecs (Tenrec ecaudatus) foraging on the forest floor
These small, fluffy, hedgehog lookalikes were introduced from Madagascar, probably as a food source, though they are not eaten in the Seychelles now.
- Me holding the coco de mer seed
The erotic bi-lobed shape of the seed has given rise to many myths and legends about it. It has been over-harvested and the Vallee de Mai provides protection to one of the few remaining populations of the coco de mer.
- Stylodonta studeriana snail, endemic to Seychelles
- Seychelles skink (Mabuya sechellensis)
- Horne's pandanus (Pandanus hornei) with distinctive aerial roots
- Blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura senegalensis)
- One of the several streams running through the valley
- Seychlles bulbul (Hypsipetes crassirostris), endemic
- How the tropical forest might have looked millions of years ago
Palm and pandanus (screwpine) species are visible, including the stilt palm (Verschaffeltia splendida), with distinctive stilt roots which provide support on steep slopes, at stream edges and between boulders.