Colombian Coca

(Erythroxylum novogranatense)



Erythroxylum novogranatense is a neotropical species of Erythroxylum (Erythroxylaceae). Cocaine is produced from the leaves. "Novogranatense" is derived from Latin: novo (new) and granatense (Granada). It was named by William Turner Thiselton-Dyer, the third director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, because its country of origin was the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Granada—present day Colombia. Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense is native to Colombia and Venezuela, but its adaptability and easy propagation has led to a wide distribution over the Old World and New World tropics. It was introduced in Bogor (West Java, Indonesia) in 1875, and by 1888 large quantities of seed were already being distributed in South-East Asia. It has been grown in Peninsular Malaysia, western and eastern Java (Indonesia), northern Borneo (Indonesia), northern Sulawesi (Indonesia) and the Philippines (Luzon). Erythroxylum novogranatense var. truxillense is grown in arid areas in northern Peru. Neither of these 2 varieties is known from wild populations. Erythroxylum novogranatense is a highland variety that is utilized in lowland areas. It is cultivated in drier regions in South America, where it requires irrigation. However, E. 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 (Indonesia), E. novogranatense has been cultivated from sea-level to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) altitude, with best results at 400–600 m (1,300–2,000 ft). In controlled environment studies, the optimum average daily temperature for leaf growth for E. novogranatense var. novogranatense was found to be around 27 °C (81 °F), whereas leaf growth was generally higher at photosynthetic photon flux densities (PPFD) of 250 or 400 micromol per meter square per second than at 155 micromol per meter square per second. 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 leaf growth giving higher cocaine yields. Both species grow on soils with low pH, and a greenhouse study has shown that the optimum pH for biomass accumulation of E. novogranatense is between 4.7 and 6.0.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
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