Herbs & Plants

Kola Nuts

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Botanical Name: Kola vera
Family:   Malvaceae
Genus :  Kola
Species:   K.vera
Kingdom :  Plantae
Order:   Malvales

Synonyms: Cola acuminata. Sterculia acuminata. Kola Seeds. Gurru Nuts. Bissy Nuts. Cola Seeds. Guru Nut.

Common NameKola Nuts

Parts Used: The seeds are the most commonly used parts of the kola nut tree for its commercial and medicinal purposes.
Habitat: Kola nut is native to W. Africa; this herb is cultivated extensively in the tropics particularly Nigeria, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and S. America. Though it is a native of tropical West Africa, but has been spread so much by man that today it is cultivated from Senegal to Nigeria.

Originally a tree of tropical rainforest, it needs a hot humid climate but can withstand a dry season on sites with a high ground water level. It may be cultivated in drier areas where ground water is available. C. nitida is a shade bearer but develops a better spreading crown which yields more fruits in open places. Though it is a lowland forest tree it has been found at altitudes over 300 m on deep rich soils under heavy and evenly distributed rainfall.

The Kola nut is a caffeine-containing nut of evergreen trees of the genus Cola, primarily of the species Cola acuminata and Cola nitida. Cola acuminata, an evergreen tree about 20 metres in height, has long, ovoid leaves pointed at both the ends with a leathery texture. The trees have yellow flowers with purple spots, and star-shaped fruit. Inside the fruit, about a dozen round or square seeds develop in a white seed-shell. The nut’s aroma is sweet and rose-like. The first taste is bitter, but it sweetens upon chewing. The nut can be boiled to extract the cola. This tree reaches 25 meters in height and is propagated through seeds. C. nitida and C. acuminata can easily be interchanged with other Cola species...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Kola nuts comprise about 2% caffeine, as well as containing kolanin and theobromine. All three chemicals function as stimulants

Cultivation:   Ripe fruits harvested before the follicles split open, the seeds or nuts are extracted from the follicles and the white aril removed after 5 days of fermentation. Yields of 300 nuts per tree are considered good. Nuts for planting are the mature ones that have undergone after-ripening. C. nitida can also be propagated by cuttings or aerial layering. The seedl
ings are sometimes raised in pots or in polythene bags before planting out. Field spacing of 10 x 10 m is common. Early weeding is essential and interplanting with a shade tree recommended. Initial growth is slow, reaching only 3 m in 4 years. Slashing the trunk of cola trees before the season of main flowering is believed to induce heavy bearing. Trees start flowering at 4-5 years and very few fruits can be obtained, but full production occurs in 20 years. Cola as an intercrop flowers later than the normal 4-5 years. Seed generally have recalcitrant storage behaviour. Seed can be retained for 1 year or more without loss in viability with seeds wrapped in banana leaves in a basket, or with polythene bags, at room temperature. Nuts may be thus stored for several months without spoiling but will require regular changing of the leaves and checking for weevil damage.

Constituents:    The different varieties of nuts give a greater or lesser percentage of caffeine, which is only found in the fresh state. The seeds are said to contain a glucoside, Kolanin, but this substance appears to be a mixture of Kola red and caffeine. The seeds also contain starch, fatty matter, sugar, a fat decomposing enzyme acting on various oils.

Medicinal   Uses: The properties of Kola are the same as caffeine, modified only by the astringents present. Fresh Kola Nuts have stimulant action apart from the caffeine content, but as they appear in European commerce, their action is indistinguishable from that of other caffeine drugs and Kola red is inert. Kola is also a valuable nervine, heart tonic, and a good general tonic.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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