What Everyone Ought to Know About the Coca Plant

Margarita FolkPosted by

The coca plant is one of the most misunderstood plants currently being grown and harvested. Most commonly known for being the plant which cocaine is derived from, it has the stereotype of being a dangerous plant. However, the coca plant has many valid and safe uses, which have been utilized by herbalists since the plant's discovery.

The coca plant grows in South America, Africa, Ceylon, Taiwan, Indonesia and Formosa. However, it is most commonly known for its presence in the Andes of South America, where the majority of cocaine is produced. The first known documentation of the plant was in 1783, but it was not classified until 1786, where it was given the name Erythroxylum coca. However, it is believed that the coca plant has been established as a domestic plant for over 2,000 years. There is evidence within burial sites of coca to support this belief.

Tending to the coca plant requires diligence and effort. The life of the coca plant begins as a fruit, which is collected when the drupes are almost ripe. These drupes are placed within a basket and allowed to sit where the flesh of the fruit becomes soft. Once this has occurred, the seeds are removed and the seeds are placed in the sun to dry out.

Only once this occurs, the seeds can be planed. Germination takes approximately 24 days. Once the plant has acquired 4 leaves, they are protected by a lattice covering for a year.

After the year has ended, the plants are transferred to preparation fields. This transportation can only be done during the rainy season. Three years after this transfer, some leaves may be harvested. Once the coca plant is able to be harvested, they are harvested three or four times a year. A fully established acre of coca plants can yield 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of leaf per year.

While coca plants are annual, a field will be replanted once every twenty years, as the quality of the plant diminishes over time.

As coca plants are so valuable, there are many steps taken to protect the crops from natural predators and disease. There are several varieties of insects that prey on the Coca plants, as well as fungus that can cripple or kill the stalks, branches and leaves. Weeds can also be devastating to young coca plants, as the weeds rob the soil of the nutrients that the plants need for basic survival.

The most common use of coca plants is in the popular soft drink, Coca-Cola. While this beverage no longer contains cocaine, it is still made directly from the coca leaf.

Modern medicinal uses of coca include use as a bactericide, as spinal anesthetics and as treatments for ailments such as eczema and shingles.

Source by Steve Charles Habib