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Coca Plant

The coca plant is one of the commonly misunderstood plants currently being grown and harvested. Most commonly known for being the plant which cocaine is derived from, it has the stereotype of being a

dangerous plant. However, the coca plant has many medicinal and safe uses, which have been utilized by herbalists since the plant's discovery.

South America, Africa, Ceylon, Taiwan, Indonesia and Formosa are the areas that the coca plant is most suited for living. However, it is most commonly stereotyped for its existence in the Andes of South America, where the majority of cocaine is produced. The first known documentation of the plant was in 1783, but it was not classified until 1786, where it was given the name Erythroxylum coca. However, it is believed that the coca plant has been tended as a domestic plant for over 2,000 years. There is proof within burial sites of coca to lend credence this belief.

Diligence and effort is required to tend to the coca plant. The life of the coca plant begins as a fruit, which is picked when the drupes are almost ripe. These drupes are placed within a basket and allowed to sit where the flesh of the fruit becomes soft. Once this has occurred, the seeds are removed and the seeds are put in the sun to dry out.

Only once this occurs, the seeds can be sown. It takes 24 days for the coca plant to germinate. Once the plant has grown 4 leaves, they are protected by a lattice covering for a year.

Once that critical first year has finished, the plants are transferred to preparation fields. This transportation can only occur during the rainy season. Three years after this transfer, some leaves may be harvested. Once the coca plant is able to be harvested, they are harvested three or four times a year. A fully established acre of coca plants can yield 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of product per year.

While coca plants are annual, a field will be resown once every twenty years, as the quality of the plant fades over time.

As coca plants are so pricey, there are many safeguards taken to guard the crops from natural predators and disease. There are some varieties of insects that prey on the coca plants, as well as fungus that can harm or destroy the stalks, branches and leaves. Weeds can also be fatal to adolescent coca plants, as the weeds {remove|robtake from the soil of the nutrients that the plants need for basic life.

Coca-Cola is the most known producer and user of the coca plant.|The most common use of coca plants is in the popular soft drink, Coca-Cola.| While this soda no longer contains cocaine, it is still made directly from the coca leaf.

Contemporary medicinal uses of coca include use as a bactericide, as spinal anesthetics and as treatments for diseases such as eczema and shingles.