Cola nitida - Cola Nut
In West Africa, this plant enjoys even cultic veneration. The middle sized tree resembles a Cocoa tree and this is not by accident. Both belong to the Malvaceae, and are, therefore, related to our Malvae or to the Hibiscus shrub. Also the fruits show a certain resemblance in shape and structure and both contain stimulating alkaloids. For the Cocoa tree theobromin, in case of the Cola Nut, in addition caffeine. The ubiquitous soft drink Coca Cola derives the second part of its name from the Cola Nut. It was initially containing an extract of this fruit (in the meantime, however, replaced by trivial caffeine) In its West African home, the Cola Nut is also used for medical purposes, if one feels exhausted or tired, but also to activate liver and gall. There exist numerous species, most relevant are Cola nitida and Cola acuminata that can be discerned by their leaf shape. Our plant in the Tropical House seems to be an intermediate. One has to assume that only a part of the numerous species that occur throughout the rainforest belt of Africa, are known. The fruits are picked, their woody content is then cracked and the individual seeds are then dried in the sun. Especially the Igbo in Nigeria use the Cola Nut for ritual purposes. For instance, it is only allowed to be prepared by men.