Our future fruiters
Garcinia kola Heckel
Journ. Pharm. and Chim. 8: 88 (1883)
Synonyms: Garcinia conruana Engl. Garcinia dinklagei Engl.
Common Names: English: bitter cola
Local names: Bassa: wè. Boulou: onie. Douala: ebongagnagne. Ejagham: ejare, nya. Ewondo: onie. Ibo: adi. Pygmy Baka: ngbwel
Origin, geographical distribution and ecology
Forest species from tropical Africa, from Sierra Leone to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its distribution is poorly known in Cameroon where it is frequently grown. In natural forest, it is very scattered and present at low densities.
Large tree up to 40 m tall and 100 cm in diameter; crown dense, with verticillate branches, erect, a little pendulous; base with serifs; straight bole, cylindrical; bark dark brown, smooth, with horizontal margins, fairly thick slice, fibrous, dark brown outside, pink inside, exuding a yellow latex very sticky and scanty.
Leaves opposite, simple, persistent; blade dark green, shiny above, lighter green below, obovate-elliptical, up to 10 (20) x 6 cm; top shortly acuminate.
Inflorescences in small terminal umbels.
Greenish-white flowers; tetramers, males or hermaphrodites; stamens in 4 bundles.
Fruits: berries dangling towards the end of twigs; globose, reddish yellow, velvety, a little flattened, about 6.5 cm in diameter, persistent calyx.
Seeds 2-4 per fruit, brown, embedded in an orange-yellow pulp with an apricot smell.
Flowering from December to January. Fruiting from July to October.
Variability and conservation of the resource
A widely propagated species in nurseries, the cultivation of this plant is widespread in the forest zone. The tree is preserved during the clearing of crops. The improvement of the species by cloning (cuttings) is being tested in some research centers in Cameroon.
G. kola is a member of the family Clusiaceae, formerly classified as a Guttiferae. In the genus Garcinia, there are several species including G. lucida, G. mannii, G. polyantha and G. epunctata. Little information is available on variation within the species and related wild species.
There are male flowers and hermaphroditic flowers. The fruits are berries containing 2 to 3 seeds.
The germination rate is high (80%). However, this germination is slow (3 to 5 months). The young plants must be shaded. A slow-growing species, it bears the first fruits 7 to 8 years after planting. Garcinia kola, planted or protected, grows in cocoa and coffee plantations next to other fruit species. Its crown, relatively less cumbersome than that of Dacryodes edulis or Ricinodendron heudelotii, favors its development in association with a varied range of cultures.
The parts used are fruit, bark and wood. Part of the pulp of the fruit adhering to the seed is edible. Slightly acidic and bitter, its seeds are chewed like Cola acuminata nuts and used as a stimulant or aphrodisiac (Vivien and Faure, 1995). The seeds and bark of Garcinia kola are sometimes mixed with sugar cane juice or palm wine to increase the degree of alcohol (Sunderland et al., 2000).