Cola Nut: Cultivation, Properties and Care

A difficult plant to grow, but with interesting characteristics and properties. Discover everything you need to know about Cola acuminata and its fruit.
Cola Nut: Cultivation, Properties and Care

Last update: 02 May, 2023

The cola nut is native to Africa and many consider it exotic, both for its origins and its properties. Cola acuminata and Sudan nut are other names by which both the fruit and the cola tree are known. The first can be reddish or white inside.

The name may sound familiar. Perhaps it’s due to the famous Coca-Cola drink?

Yes, this nut is part of the original recipe of the soft drink and is used to add caffeine. We’ll tell you all about it here.

What is the cola nut?

The cola nut is a tree native to tropical Africa; its flowers are white, with large fruits of an intense green color. The fruit has a high content of caffeine and theobromine, the same ones found in coffee, tea, and chocolate.

The seeds are considered stimulants. However, these aren’t the only benefits of the tree that comes from the Malvaceae family. Thanks to the flexibility and strength of its wood, it’s used for construction.

There are several varieties of this plant. In addition, it requires damp and very fertile soils to grow, so it needs to be in a damp place throughout the year.

Coffee grains.
Even though it isn’t coffee, this plant contains caffeine and exerts stimulating effects when consumed.

Cola nut: characteristics and properties

Some of the reasons why this nut is so sought after lie in its stimulant properties. It has a high caffeine content (slightly more than coffee), and is used for making soft drinks.

Apart from this attribute, pharmacology also seems to be interested in it, as there’s scientific evidence to show that it contains tannins, and has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Traditional medicine also considers it to have diuretic and digestive effects, which is observed in a study conducted on rodents by the International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology.

Among its active principles are the following:

  • Alkaloid bases: Caffeine, theobromine and theophylline.
  • Tannins: Catechol, epicatechin, phlobaphenes, and potassium salts.

Current cultivation area

The largest cultivation occurs in Africa. To be more precise, in equatorial Africa (Zambia, Angola, Chad). In fact, 70% of cola nut exports come from Nigeria.

However, it has also been planted in countries with a similar climate, in other tropical areas such as the Caribbean or Brazil. There, humidity remains constant. Thus, even though it’s a native fruit of Africa, it can be grown in several countries.

General tips for growing the cola nut

The cola nut is very demanding, requiring specific conditions to grow healthy and strong. However, it is possible to recreate its ideal environment. We’ll explain what you should keep in mind.

Read this interesting article: Healthy Habits for Drinking Coffee


A tropical climate is a prerequisite. The average temperature throughout the year should range from 22 to 28 degrees Celsius (71 to 82 Fahrenheit), with periods of continuous rainfall and a relative humidity of over 80%.

It can grow in areas with semi-shade, in direct sunlight, or in wooded areas. However, what must be constant is a humid climate.

Soil type

The main condition is that the soil must have the capacity to retain the moisture and nutrients that the plant needs. In addition, it should contain considerable levels of organic matter, be slightly acidic, and of clay texture.

Despite creating the perfect conditions for the tree, it is usually a slow-growing tree. It can take about 5 years to bear its first fruit, which is when it reaches maturity.

By seed

Seed is a good option because it offers a high germination rate. Fortunately, it isn’t a complicated procedure. If you want to reproduce the plant by this method, just make sure to plant it in a pot with peat substrate, and keep it moist and warm.

It usually germinates between 15 and 21 days. When the seedlings come out, you should continue to keep them moist and put them in a semi-shaded place. You can only transplant it when it has grown more than 30 centimeters (12 inches)

A kola nut.
The fruits of the cola tree resemble stones or nuts.

Where to get the cola nut?

You could ask in any supermarket or nursery. If you can’t find it, you can find it for sale online. This fruit can be consumed in different ways; in drinks or pastries are the most common ways.

So, you have all the information you need! What are you waiting for to start cultivating the cola nut at home?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Dah-Nouvlessounon, D., Adoukonou-Sagbadja, H., Diarrassouba, N., Sina, H., Adjanohoun, A., Inoussa, M., Akakpo, D., Gbenou, J. D., Kotchoni, S. O., Dicko, M. H., & Baba-Moussa, L. (2015). Phytochemical Analysis and Biological Activities of Cola nitida Bark. Biochemistry research international2015, 493879.
  • Adeosun, O. I., Olaniyi, K. S., Amusa, O. A., Jimoh, G. Z., & Oniyide, A. A. (2017). Methanolic extract of Cola nitida elicits dose-dependent diuretic, natriuretic and kaliuretic activities without causing electrolyte impairment, hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity in rats. International journal of physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology, 9(6), 231–239.
  • Erukainure, O. L., Oyebode, O. A., Sokhela, M. K., Koorbanally, N. A., & Islam, M. S. (2017). Caffeine – rich infusion from Cola nitida (kola nut) inhibits major carbohydrate catabolic enzymes; abates redox imbalance; and modulates oxidative dysregulated metabolic pathways and metabolites in Fe2+-induced hepatic toxicity. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie96, 1065–1074.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.