Scientific name: Cola nitida
Common name: Cola nuts
Description: The cola nut tree is an evergreen tree cultivated in the forest and high savannah areas. It takes between 7 to years to fruit.
Habitat: Could be found in the wild forest and high savannah.
Chemical composition: Caffeine (2-3.5%), theobromine (1.0-2.5%), theophylline, ctechin, epicatechin, D-catechin, phenolics, phlobaphens, betaine, protein, starch, fat, thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, sugar, gum, cellulose, water, calcium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene and tannic acid.
Uses: the kola nut has a bitter flavor and contains caffeine. It is chewed in many west African cultures individually or in a group setting. It is often used ceremonially, presented to tribal chiefs or present to guests. It is preferred among African muslims, who are forbidden to drink alcohol. Chewing cola nuts can ease hunger pangs. Frequent chewing of the kola can also lead to stained teeth. Among the urban youth of West Africa, kola nut is becoming less popular. Outside mainland Africa, some species are cultivated for their nuts in Brazil, Jamaica and elsewhere in the humid tropics. Kola nuts are often used to treat whooping cough and asthma. The caffeine present acts as a bronchodil in expanding the bronchial air passages. Kola nuts are perhaps best known to Western culture as a flavoring ingredient and one of the sources of caffeine in cola and other similarly flavored beverages.