Once classified as a cousin of the cocoa family, the kola nut is derived from the Cola plant. These are found in the African tropical rainforests and are in great demand all over the world for their caffeinated nature. These are used in making soft drinks and beverages. When the nuts are chewed fresh, they have a certain bitter taste. However, after they are processed, they taste somewhat of nutmeg.
What Do Kola Nuts Look Like?
Kola nuts grow on evergreen Cola trees in the African rainforests. Cola acuminate is a tree that can grow up to 20 meters tall with long oval-shaped leaves. The fruit produced by this tree is star-shaped and has white-colored flowers. The nuts can be extracted from the fruits and they usually have an aromatic fragrance.
Originally found only in Africa, they were later on brought to parts of Brazil and the Caribbean island through the slave trade network. However, the bulk of all Kola nut productions come from Brazil.
What are the Uses of Kola Nut?
This is mostly used as a stimulant in Africa and is used to treat guests as a sign of respect. Other than that, the Kola not also has a number of other uses. It is one of the most potent cash crops in Africa with a significantly big international market.
Kola nut was earlier used in many pharmaceutical preparations that dealt with weight loss, but it is not very clearly established as to how it helps in reducing weight. A number of natural supplements that have been approved by the FDA also contain Kola nut.
Kola Nut Cultivation
It is a tropical rain forest tree that prefers a hot, humid climate, but this can survive a dry season if the groundwater level is high enough. It can be grown in drier areas with access to groundwater. C. nitida is a shade bearer, but it grows a wider crown that produces more fruits in open areas. Despite being a lowland forest tree, this has been identified at altitudes of over 300 meters on deep, fertile soils with uniformly distributed rainfall.
Weeding must be done on a regular basis, either manually or with the use of herbicides. Irrigation could be given to the plants, although it is critical to extract the water via an efficient drainage system because excess water could be harmful to the plant's development. The kola nut plant reacts well to fertilizers when cultivated in an inadequate shade. In most cases, windbreaks are necessary to defend the plants against strong gales.
Kola nuts can be harvested either mechanically or manually by plucking them from a tree branch. Nigeria accounts for 52.4 percent of global production, with the Ivory Coast and Cameroon following closely behind. Kola nuts could be preserved for a long time if held in a cool, dry spot.
Pests and Diseases
The kola weevil - Balanogastris cola is known to strike the nuts. The larvae of the cacao-eating moth Characoma strictigrapta penetrate into the nuts. To combat the assault on nursery plants, traders often use an extract of Rauvolfia vomitoria bark or pulverized fruits of Xylopia and Capsicum. Sahlbergella spp., cacao pests, were being discovered on C. nitida as an alternative host plant. Though seeds are vulnerable to worms, wood is vulnerable to borer attack.