The cola nut (although not botanically speaking a nut) is culturally important in its native West Africa:

  • Divorce has been granted for the payment of one cola nut and cheating partners can make up for their ‘mistakes’ with a payment in cola.
  • A cola tree may be planted for a newborn who will be its lifelong owner; a tree may also planted at the grave of a chief.
  • A Nigerian fable tells how death itself can be warded off by a feast of cola nuts.
  • Cola nut ceremonies perform the equivalent of lawyers meetings, business lunches, greeting cards, juries, ambassadors and legal contracts in the west.

Where it grows

Cola is native to tropical West Africa. This lowland species prefers well-drained soils in tropical climates.

Common uses

The caffeine-rich seeds are widely chewed across Africa as a stimulant to dispel sleep, thirst and hunger.

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