Is there any specific term in English for the stick running through the small and narrow leaf of a big coconut leaf?

In coconut tree, there is a stick(resembling a spinal cord) running through the small and narrow leaf of its main big leaf. In my mother tongue Malayalam, we call it "eerkili". I have encountered several occasions where I had to reluctantly use the Malayalam word for this while communicating in English.

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    Spine? What is a small and narrow leaf of a big main leaf? Picture? – mplungjan Aug 6 '14 at 9:40
  • Do you mean the part that runs through the individual leaflet, you can pull it out and use it for a toothpick or use it to stitch things together? – Frank Aug 6 '14 at 9:41
  • @Frank Absolutely! That long and narrow stick! – code_dweller Aug 6 '14 at 9:43
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    The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that you would be able to use stem. I think most people are aware that a coconut leaf is usually called a frond (like a branch) and the frond carries what would be be easily recognised as leaves (the leaflets). To say the stem of a coconut leaf is probably as understandable as you'll get for an English speaker who is not overly familiar with the uses of parts of the coconut nor botanical terms. You'll probably still have to explain it's properties though. – Frank Aug 6 '14 at 10:58
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    Note that most of these answers are technical. 'midrib' is understandable; one can figure out that it must mean, but out of context most people wouldn't know that. 'rachis' is very technical and few would even recognize it as an English word. – Mitch Aug 6 '14 at 12:30

The "spine" of both the leaf and each pinna of the leaf appears to be called the midrib.

Detail of coconut leaf [Adityamadhav83 via Wikimedia]

Cocos nucifera is a large palm, growing up to 30 m (98 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m (13–20 ft) long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long


Pinnately veined leaves have one large central vein, called the midrib, which extends from the base of the blade to its tip.

[Robinson Library]

A large strengthened vein along the midline of a leaf.


  • 2
    +1 but it's questionable if many English speakers would identify 'coconut leaflet midrib' as the flexible stick you can pull from a coconut leaflet. I imagine that would be mostly due to a lack of awareness that there is such a thing. I wonder if there is a more colloquial term (in English) probably from the 18th or 19th century. – Frank Aug 6 '14 at 9:53
  • Could you provide me with a colloquial term for the midrib of the inner leaflets? – code_dweller Aug 6 '14 at 9:56
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    I'd use midrib. It specifies a rib down the middle of something. It's far more colloquial than rachis. Pinnate leaves have a midrib in each blade and what would probably be called a central stalk supporting the separate pinnae. – Andrew Leach Aug 6 '14 at 10:00
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    Midrib is also used in this in.com article _ Incredibly, pickles made out of bamboo’ and ‘eerkili’ (mid-rib of a coconut leaf) have been brought out, and have found enough takers._ – SrJoven Aug 6 '14 at 10:05
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    I'm still completely unclear what ANYONE is referring to! Heh! There one image so far but it contains at least 3 or 4 possibilities as to what is meant! – Fattie Aug 6 '14 at 15:06

Leaflet midrib

from uoregon.edu

Figure 10.-Coconut tree and its parts.

a, tree: 1, trunk (rakau); 2, base of trunk (tona); 3, roots (aka); 4, leaf (rou niu); 5, center keaves (tira).

b, leaf parts: 1, midrib (takai niu); 2, leaflet (mata rou niu); 3, leaflet midrib (tuaniu).

c, flower parts: 1,whole flower (karoro); 2, flower sheath (taume); 3, stalk of nut (pa karihi); 4, stalk of bunch (kauroro).

d, mature fruit: 1, outer skin (kiri taha); 2, husk (puru); 3, shell (ipu); 4, flesh (kaniu); 5, fluid (nia wai, plural); 6, nut stalk (pa karihi);.

e, growing nut (homo): 1, roots (aka); 2, leaf stipule (kaka); 3, leaf (rou homo); 4, central leaf (tira homo); 5, spongy interior (upu).

Older finds

I found this image at bioversityinternational.org:

enter image description here

but this one calls your specific part a midrib (rachis):

  • What do we call the spine of leaflets that arise from the rachis? – code_dweller Aug 6 '14 at 9:54
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    Thanks for the diagram. So, is the spine of leaflets(pinnae) called as midrib? – code_dweller Aug 6 '14 at 10:14
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    Leaflet midrib. See update – mplungjan Aug 6 '14 at 11:47
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    So this is now the same as my answer? – Andrew Leach Aug 6 '14 at 12:26
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    by far the best answer – Fattie Aug 6 '14 at 15:06

I think the term used in botany is rachis:

  • In plants, a rachis is the main axis of a compound structure. It can be the main stem of a compound leaf, such as in Acacia or ferns, or the main, flower-bearing portion of an inflorescence above a supporting peduncle.


  • Pinnately Compound (Pinnate): With A Rachis

Source: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/termlf1.htm

Ngram: leaf rachis vs leaf midrib.

  • What do we call the spine of leaflets that arise from the rachis? – code_dweller Aug 6 '14 at 9:56
  • Have a look at the second link I have attached. – user66974 Aug 6 '14 at 9:58

midrib (petiole) of leaflet

The whole leaf is called coconut fond. stalk (petiole) of frond = Midrib. then leaflet of a frond. midrib (petiole) of leaflet https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegoauk73/16202081480/ the above / below pic is a broom entirely made of midribs

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