Kola Nuts (aka Cola Nuts) are a common sight in The Gambia,
playing a very important role in the culture and traditional social
The nuts are chewed and are valued for it's pharmacological effects
and euphoriant qualities as a stimulant, aphrodisiac, hunger suppressant,
and healing properties.
Kola nuts, the seed of Cola nitida and Cola acuminata, are native
to West Africa. It is a genus of about 125 species of trees native
to the tropical rainforests of Africa, classified in the family
Malvaceae, subfamily Sterculioideae (or treated in the separate
family Sterculiaceae). It is related to the South American genus
They are evergreen trees, growing to 20 m tall, with glossy ovoid
leaves up to 30 cm long. About the size of a large walnut or small
golf ball, they vary in colour from pink to beige. They are the
seed pods of various evergreen trees; Sterculiaceae cola vera
is the scientific name of the most common species. The kola nut
trees, which grow as tall as 60 feet (18 meters), are most common
in Western Africa and the Atlantic coast area of Central Africa.
The flavour is extremely bitter; most aficionados say the taste
is acquired. They pack a punch with a chemical that is similar
Where to buy them & storage:
They can be bought at any Gambian local market and many corner
shops and from a few street peddlers. The best way to store them
is submerged in water, as they grow mould if left in a plastic
Kola nuts play an essential part in certain social occasions in
Gambia such as naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals and requesting
for someone's forgiveness. They are commonly used as gifts to
show respect. When visiting an Alikaalo (village chief), for example,
it would be wise and polite to present him with a few kola nuts.
The pods are also used to ease labor pains; seeds to relieve diarrhea,
nausea, and hangover. The roots are used as a chewing stick to
clean teeth and freshen breath.
Local name Gurru
Extracts of Kola nuts are regularly found in high energy drinks
and cola beverages such as Coca-Cola to be found on Europe's supermarkets.