KOLANUT is the fruit of the kola tree, a genus (Cola) of trees that are native to the tropical rainforests of Africa. The caffeine-containing fruit of the tree is used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages, and is the origin of the term “cola”.
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 caffeine.
Kola nuts contain about 2- 4% caffeine and theobromine, as well as tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids.
Family name: Sterculiaceae
Botanical name: Cola nitida
English name: Kolanut
Igbo name: Oji
Description: Ever green tree with glossy, pointed oblanceolate leaves 7-30cm long. Five-lobed, cream flowers, about 3cm across, usually with purple-red marking inside. It produces compound fruits, about 7cm long, containing to ten seeds (nuts), 4-5cm long.
Parts used: Seed.
Chemical constituents: Astringent, anti-depressant, stimulant.
Actions: An astringent, bitter-sweet, anti-depressant that has a stimulant effect, especially on the heart.
- Internally in tonics for low energy, exhaustion and poor appetite.
- It is also used in the treatment for diarrhoea.
- Not given to patients with hypertension, palpitation and peptic ulcers.
- Chewed fresh or made into a hot drink as energy and digestive stimulant.