Erythoxylum Coca

Image of Erythoxylum Coca retrieved from on June 14, 2013.

This shrub 2-3m high is hardly known in its wild state today, as the plant has been cultivated for centuries, in a number of varieties. The straight erect woody branches bear opposite pairs of short-stemmed pale or grayish-green leaves. These are 5-8 cm long and 2.5-4cm wide, their shape a pointed oval. The central vein on the underside is accompanied on either side by a line of thickened cells which strengthen the leaf. The small stipules in the leaf axis become horny later. The greenish white flowers also grow in the axils, in small clusters. The red stone fruits are barely 1cm in diameter, like small cherries, each containing 1 seed. The most important active principle, cocaine, is found in the leaves. It is a narcotic and is also addictive. In their countries of origin, coca leaves are chewed to relieve hunger, thirst, and physical fatigue. After removing the veins, the leaves are prepared with lime or ashes and made into bite-size parcels which are chewed for a long time. The natives only rarely become addicted from chewing coca.

Excerpt from page 63 of Medicines From the Earth by William A.R. Thomson, M.D.

Erythoxylum Coca, plant, herb, stimulant, cocaine