This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, red wood; true of some species). Written also Erythroxylum. Erythroxylaceas. Coca. A genus famous for the coca plant, the leaves of which are of vast importance in medicine, yielding cocaine, grown slightly in the extreme south of Florida and California, and rarely cultivated under glass in the North for its economic interest.
Erythroxylon comprises about 90 species of shrubs or small trees widely distributed in tropical and subtropical countries but most abundant in tropical Amer.: leaves alternate, entire, often coriaceous: flowers small, whitish, on bracteolate pedicels, solitary or fascicled; sepals 5 (or 6); petals of same number, deciduous, appendaged on the inner face; stamens twice the number of petals, connate at base: fruit a 1-seeded drupe.
Coca, Lam. Shrub, 5-6 ft. high, with rusty brown, slender branches, on the extreme tips of which the leaves are borne: below the leaves, on the wood of the preceding year, which is reddish, clusters of 3-5 yellow 5-lobed flowers 1/4in. across spring from the protection of the small scales that line the branchlets, and which are colored like the bark: leaves oval, obovate or elliptical, differing in different cult, strains or varieties, about 1 1/2-2 1/2 in. long and marked on the under side with 2 lines extending on either side of the midrib from base to apex. Native country uncertain; the earliest described form, which happens to be Peruvian, was named by Lamarck Erythroxylum Coca, and figured in B.M. 7334. The leaves of this form are about 2 1/2 in. long, oblong-obovate, tapering to a short stalk, rounded at the apex, the midrib extending beyond into a short, sharp point. Coca is grown commercially on a large scale throughout S. Amer., and also in Java and Ceylon. There are 2 leading commercial varieties, according to Kraemer, - the Bolivian or Huanco, and the Peruvian or Truxillo. The leaves are picked when fully grown, and quickly dried in the sun. The shrub is said to require for its best development a very humid atmosphere and comparatively high elevation.
Coca should not be confused with cocoa and cacao, which are discussed under Theobroma. L, H B†