Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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Any of various tropical trees belonging to the genus Cola. Members of the genus Cola (family Malvaceae, order Malvales), which are native to tropical Africa, are called cola trees (see illustration). In particular, two species, C. acuminata and C. nitida, are of primary importance commercially. The fruit of the cola tree is a star-shaped follicle containing eight hard seeds, which are the cola (kola) nuts of commerce. These nuts are an important masticatory in many parts of tropical Africa. Cola nuts have a caffeine content twice that of coffee. The nuts also contain an essential oil and a glucoside, kolanin, which is a heart stimulant. Cola nuts, often in combination with an extract from coca, have been used in the manufacture of cola beverages. However, artificial ingredients have replaced cola nuts as a flavor in many instances. Cola is cultivated in West Africa, Jamaica, Brazil, India, and various regions of tropical Asia. See also: Africa; Caffeine; Coca; Essential oil; Malvales; Nut crop culture; Seed
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