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**Botanical Characteristics and Cultivation**:
– Coca plant resembles a blackthorn bush, growing 2 to 3m tall with curved branches and thin, opaque, oval leaves.
– Two species of coca crops with two varieties each, domesticated from Erythroxylum gracilipes.
– Traditionally grown in lower altitudes of the Andes or highlands, mainly in the Yungas region.
– Cultivated for over 8,000 years in South America as a cash crop with significant spiritual and economic importance.
– Seeds sown in small plots and transferred to final planting holes or furrows; harvested three times a year in hot, damp, and humid locations.

**Chemical Composition and Use**:
– Known for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine, with leaves containing 0.23% to 0.96% cocaine alkaloid content.
– Coca leaves used as a daily stimulant and medicine by indigenous cultures.
Coca-Cola used coca leaf extract until 1903.
– Extraction of cocaine from coca requires specific solvents and processes.
– Coca acts as a mild stimulant, suppresses hunger, thirst, and pain; users ingest 60 to 80 milligrams of cocaine per chewing session.

**Herbicide Resistance and Morphology**:
– Boliviana negra is a herbicide-resistant form of coca, resistant to glyphosate used in eradication campaigns.
– No evidence of CP4 EPSPS protein found in Boliviana negra; resistance strengthens growth by eliminating surrounding weeds.
– Leaves harvested from plants of varying ages, dried in the sun, and packed in sacks for preservation.
– Thrives in hot, damp, and humid locations; preferred leaves obtained in drier areas on hillsides.
– Harvesting occurs three times a year; leaves sometimes eaten by larvae of the moth Eloria noyesi.

**Pharmacological Aspects and History**:
– Active ingredient is the cocaine alkaloid, with various alkaloids present in addition to cocaine.
– Acts as a mild stimulant, slowing absorption compared to nasal application of purified forms.
– Leaves chewed for centuries for stimulant properties, traded in Amsterdam and used in Java.
– Cultural and historical significance in indigenous cultures; suggested as a tool for recovering cocaine addicts.
– Natural coca leaf does not induce dependence or addiction.

**Global Cultivation and Societal Impact**:
– Mainly cultivated in the Andean region, with Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia hosting over 98% of global coca plantations.
– Recent discoveries in Mexico and Honduras; historically cultivated in the Dominican Republic.
– Significant economic implications in the Andean region; long history of consumption in indigenous cultures.
– Both traditional and modern applications; role in the illegal drug trade.
– Efforts to regulate and control coca production and consumption.

Coca (Wikipedia)

Coca is any of the four cultivated plants in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. Coca is known worldwide for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine.

Erythroxylum novogranatense var. novogranatense leaves and berries
Source plant(s)
Part(s) of plantLeaves, fruits
Geographic originAndes
Active ingredientsCocaine, benzoylecgonine, ecgonine, others
Legal status

Different early-Holocene peoples in different areas of South America independently transformed Erythroxylum gracilipes plants into quotidian stimulant and medicinal crops now collectively called Coca. Archaeobotanical evidence show that Coca crops have been grown for well over 8,000 years in South America. They have had and still have a significant role in spiritual, economic, social and political dimensions for numerous indigenous cultures in the Andes and the Western Amazon arising from the use of the leaves as medicine and mild, daily stimulant.

The plant is grown as a cash crop in the Argentine Northwest, Bolivia, Alto Rio Negro Territory in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru, even in areas where its cultivation is unlawful. There are some reports that the plant is being cultivated in the south of Mexico, by using seeds imported from South America, as an alternative to smuggling its recreational product cocaine. It also plays a fundamental role in many traditional Amazonian and Andean cultures as well as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia.

The cocaine alkaloid content of dry Erythroxylum coca var. coca leaves was measured ranging from 0.23% to 0.96%. Coca-Cola used coca leaf extract in its products from 1885 until about 1903, when it began using decocainized leaf extract. Extraction of cocaine from coca requires several solvents and a chemical process known as an acid–base extraction, which can fairly easily extract the alkaloids from the plant.

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