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Erythroxylum novogranatense (Morris) Hieron.

Erythroxylum novogranatense (Morris) Hieron.

Family

Erythroxylaceae

Synonyms

Erythroxylum coca Lamk var. novogranatense Morris, Erythroxylum coca Lamk var. spruceanum Burck, Erythroxylum truxillense Rusby.

Vernacular Names

English Java coca, truxillo coca.

Geographical Distributions

Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense (Colombian coca) is native to Colombia and Venezuela, but its adaptability and easy propagation has led to a wide distribution over the Old and New World tropics. E. novogranatense was introduced in the Bogor Botanical Gardens in 1875, and by 1888, large quantities of seed were already being distributed. In Southeast Asia, it has been grown in Peninsular Malaysia, western and eastern Java, northern Borneo, northern Sulawesi (Minahasa) and the Philippines (Luzon). E. novogranatense var. truxillense (Trujillo coca) is grown in arid areas in northern Peru. Neither of these varieties is known from wild populations.

Description

E. novogranatense is a shrub tree that can grow up to 1-3 m tall and with minute lenticels on the branches. The leaves are abundant along the twigs, rather persistent, obovate-oblong, measuring (2-)3-6(-7) cm x 1-3 cm, attenuate at the base, rounded or sometimes emarginated at the apex and always with a mucronate tip or notch.

The flowers are in clusters of 1-4(-8) and measure 5-10 mm long. The sepal is with a tube measuring 1-1.5 mm long and 5 lobes, which is triangular-ovate, measuring 1.5-2 mm x 1 mm and acuminate while the petals are oblong, convex, measuring (3.5-)4(-5) mm x 2 mm and white or greenish-white.

The fruit is ellipsoid-oblong and red.

Ecology / Cultivation

E. novogranatense is cultivated in drier regions in South America. However, E. novogranatense var. novogranatense is very adaptable to varying ecological conditions, and grows well in both humid and dry areas, and at low and higher altitudes. In Java, E. novogranatense has been cultivated from sea level to 1000 m altitude, with best results at 400-600 m altitudes. In controlled environment studies, the optimum average daily temperature for the leaf growth for both E. coca and E. novogranatense var. novogranatense was found to be around 27°C, whereas the leaf growth was generally higher at photosynthetic photon flux densities of 250 or 400 µmol.m-2.s-1 than at 155 µmol.m-2.s-1.

Environmental effects on the cocaine concentration in the leaves were smaller, so that total cocaine production per plant was largely a function of leaf mass, with environmental conditions that stimulated the leaf growth giving higher cocaine yields. Both species grow on soils with a low pH, and a greenhouse study has shown that the optimum pH for biomass accumulation of E. coca and E. novogranatense is as low as 3.5 and 4.7-6.0, respectively.

Line Drawing / Photograph

E._novogranatense

References

  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1.

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