Cola acuminata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Sterculioideae
Genus: Cola
Schott & Endl.

See text

Cola is a genus of trees native to the tropical forests of Africa, classified in the family Malvaceae, subfamily Sterculioideae (previously in the separate family Sterculiaceae). Species in this genus are sometimes referred to as kola tree or kola nut for the caffeine-containing fruit produced by the trees that is often used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages. The genus was thought to be closely related to the South American genus Theobroma, or cocoa, but the latter is now placed in a different subfamily. They are evergreen trees, growing up to 20 m tall (about 60 feet), with glossy ovoid leaves up to 30 cm long and star-shaped fruit.[1]

Origin and distribution

Cola is a genus of the Family Malvaceae with approximately 100 to 125 species occurring in the evergreen lowland and montane forest of continental (primarily tropical) Africa.[2] The earliest known evidence of Cola is Cola amharaensis, a well-preserved fossil leaf compression from the late Oligocene Guang River flora of Ethiopia and dated to 27.23 ± 0.1 Ma.[3][4] Kola nuts are seeds harvested from pods, primarily from the species Cola nitida and Cola acuminata.[2] Outside mainland Africa, some species are cultivated for their nuts in Brazil, Jamaica and elsewhere in the humid tropics.


Cola pachycarpa K. Schum. or komngoei in basaa language (Tayap, Cameroon)
Cola pachycarpa K. Schum. or komngoei in basaa language (Tayap, Cameroon)


  1. ^ Duke, James A. (2001). Handbook of Nuts[page needed]
  2. ^ a b Cheek, Martin (2002). "Three new species of Cola (Sterculiaceae) from western Cameroon". Kew Bulletin. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 57 (2): 403–415. doi:10.2307/4111117. JSTOR 4111117.
  3. ^ Pan, Aaron David; Jacobs, Bonnie F. (December 2009). "The earliest record of the genus Cola (Malvaceae sensu lato: Sterculioideae) from the Late Oligocene (28–27 Ma) of Ethiopia and leaf characteristics within the genus". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 283 (3–4): 247–262. doi:10.1007/s00606-009-0225-1. S2CID 20179749.
  4. ^ Pan, Aaron D. (1 March 2010). "Rutaceae leaf fossils from the Late Oligocene (27.23Ma) Guang River flora of northwestern Ethiopia". Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 159 (3): 188–194. doi:10.1016/j.revpalbo.2009.12.005.