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Kola Nuts in Gambia
 Agriculture    Crops   |   Culture & Traditions  
Kola Nuts (aka Cola Nuts) are a common sight in The Gambia, playing a very important role in the culture and traditional social life. 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 Theobroma (Cacao).

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 to caffeine.

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 bag.

Social Functions:
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.

Other Uses:
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.

Kola Nuts:
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.



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