Our future fruiters
Cola nitida A. Chev. Veg. Ut. Afr. Too much. Franc. 6: 120 (1911)
Synonym: Sterculia nitida Vent.
Common names: True cola; goro (usual)
Bafia: ataras. Bafo: bobe, dibe. Bakossi: ebeu. Bakwéri: mbanga. Bamileke: tala Bassa: goro. Ewondo: abeu goro. Fang: abel, eya-abel, mfem-abel. Foulfoulde: worore. Haoussa: goro. Ibo: oji
Origin, geographical distribution and ecology
Plant native to West Africa, probably from Ivory Coast and Ghana. She is present from Senegal to Congo. The species was exported from Africa to the West Indies, Madagascar, India, Indochina and even Australia and Java. It was introduced in Cameroon around 1900 and is planted mainly in the provinces of Central, Southwest and Littoral.
Tree up to 25 m tall and 50 cm in diameter; rounded crown, dense foliage; short bole, base with small buttresses in old trees; gray bark cracked longitudinally.
Leaves simple, alternate; elliptical, rarely oblong or obovate, up to 33 x 12 cm, acuminate tops.
Male and mixed inflorescences.
Flowers 5-7 sepals, apetalous, whitish or yellowish with dark red stripes; androcea in male flowers and hermaphrodites in 20 anthers in double crown; pistil in hermaphroditic flowers with 5-7 carpels containing 2 rows of ovules.
Fruits: 1-5 hairless, green to brown follicles with well-marked beaks, blistered (more than in Cola acuminata), hollow suture.
Seeds: 1- (5) -10 per follicle, surrounded by a thin beige film and under it, a white aril wrapping 2-4 cotyledons white or red.
Variability and conservation of the resource
The species is widely propagated in nurseries for the creation of orchards or plantation in coffee plantations and cocoa farms. The World Agroforestry Center launched in 1996 a breeding program for this species. C. nitida is part of the Sterculiaceae family. Of the fifty or so species of Cola that exist, C. nitida is one of the most economically important throughout the West African forest zone. According to Simmonds (1976) the number of chromosomes in the genus Cola is constant and equal to 10. However, the pollination of C. nitida by C. acuminata gives F1 sterile plants. Inside this species, the color of nuts varies from creamy white to dark red. The white nuts are the most popular.
The flowers are grouped in male and hermaphrodite inflorescences. The hermaphroditic flowers are twice as large as the male flowers and, according to Purseglove (1968), only the female part of them is functional. Germination is slow and lasts 7 to 12 weeks. The germination rate is high. It is best to shade the seedlings. Vegetative propagation by cuttings and even by grafting is possible, but the success rate is very low.
In planting, the spacing is 10 m between plants and 10 m between rows. Plantations are usually in managed (cleared) forests. During the first years, crops such as maize, yam or cassava can be grown in combination and weeding should be regular. Growth is slow (3 m height at 4 years). Flowering begins at 5 years old and at 7 years old, we can witness the first fruiting. Optimal production takes place at age 20 and the tree can bear fruit until the age of 70-100 years.
The roots of C. nitida are attacked by Fomes lignosus Klotzsh. and F. noxius. The tree is also attacked by capsids and by the Balanogastris kolae larva (Desbr.), Which lodges inside the harvested fruits and feeds on the reserves of the cotyledonous lobes (Purseglove, 1968).
The nuts of Cola nitida are the most appreciated and the most consumed cola. Fruits and bark are the most used parts of the tree.
Cotyledons are chewed as a stimulant (Vivien and Faure 1995, Dijk Van 1999) or as hunger-killers by natives (Malleson Amadi 2000). They can support the steps, extended work and night paddling. Animals such as monkeys and antelopes are also fond of nuts (Walker and Sillans 1995).
Like Cola acuminata, this species is also used in ritual ceremonies (Mbolo, 1998). The use of Cola spp. as a cultural instrument is a widespread and deeply rooted practice in African societies (Sunderland et al., 2000). In traditional medicine, Cola nut powder is used to fight diarrhea. The bark is used grated to relieve colic, and infusion to clear the bile. It is consumed with a little salt and Xylopia aethiopica pepper to fight coughs. Fresh nuts are bitter and are part of stimulating drinks. Cola has a stimulating action because of the alkaloids, caffeine, tannins, colatin and theobromine it contains. Its use is particularly recommended in cases of convalescence, intellectual overwork and in times of prolonged effort.