|Positive ||Monocromatico ||On Oct 25, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:
You are right. This is the plant from which the Cola Syrup, used on Cola drinks (Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc.), is obtained. The nuts contain lots of caffeine, and are traditionally used in Africa as a medicine. Now itīs commercially cultivated in many tropical countries.
This is a not so tall tree, starting to bloom when itīs still around 5 meters tall, reaching up to 15 meters. It has a grey, thin bark, and a dense foliage. The leaves are bright green, shiny, a bit keeled in the middle.
The flowers come in panicles, bearing 10-30 flowers. There are male and perfect flowers, but thereīs not much difference between them (of course, only the perfect flowers will produce nuts). They lack petals, but the sepals are gorgeous. The flowers are star shaped, pale yellow or white, with scarlet traces in the middle, on the edge of the sepals, and on the tips. The stamens are red and fused with the female part.
The fruits are rough green folicles, usually 2 per flower (but sometimes up to 5). Each folicle has 5 nuts. Eating raw seeds is not recomended, you should look firstly for further information on how to use them.
This plant needs heat. I know one experimental seedling in Arizona, and itīs recomended for zone 11. It also needs regular watering, drained organic soil and full sun. Itīs a slow grower, starting to produce seeds only 7-10 years after planted, but will keep producing for over than 70 years.