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Kola nut, a stimulant

  1. West Africa is the homeland of the Cola species, the genus contains about 130 species. The seeds have been used as a stimulant since prehistoric times, but because Africa south of the Sahara was first exploited late, the oldest reports did not reach Europe until the second half of the 16th century. It was not until the late 18th century that the first 'cola' was discovered and the scientific description dates back to 1804.

Botanical and harvest

  1. While the Cola nitida has 2 cotyledons, the seeds of Cola acuminata (native to Togo east and south) have 3 to 5, sometimes even 7 cotyledons. The flowers are a bit like those of Sterculia; the bell-shaped calyx takes over the function of the absent corolla and the flowers are often unisexual. In Cola the anthers of the male flowers, which in Sterculia are rather carelessly huddled on the top of a column, are neatly arranged in a wreath near the top. The anthers at the base of the strongly developed pistil can be found in the female flowers. C. acuminata and C. nitida are small or medium-sized trees, growing in the shade of the rainforest. The nuts come in eight pieces in one husk, which are harvested with knives on a stick. They are hulled and then fermented, changing color and smell. Then they are ground into a brown powder, which resembles cocoa.

Use seeds: Semen Cola

  1. Fresh seeds taste bitter. After chewing for some time, a feeling of well-being arises that spreads all over the body and leaves a pleasant taste in the oral cavity, so that everything that is eaten or drunk also tastes good. It turns out that caffeine, 'colatein' (stimulates the heart function), and also theobromine contribute to the pleasant feeling. The chewers' breathing becomes deeper and therefore 'kola' helps to better resist fatigue on long walks. Chewing cola nuts can in part be compared to drinking coffee, guarana, mate and the like. They are all caffeinated herbs, of which people from different cultures worldwide and independently of each other have discovered the stimulating effect. In Stimulantia van Muller from 1951 it is also mentioned 'that the Cola trees are so closely guarded that in some places in Congo the felling of the trees is punished with death and that the presentation of especially the white nuts is considered a proof of friendship '.

Former medical use

    African and other names of Cola nitida

      For further study

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