Cocaine plant

Cocaine plant

Cocaine plant

Specification & Spread

Cocaine plant leaves (coca leaves) — folia erythroxyloni сосае
Cocaine plant (Huanuco cocaine tree) — erythroxylon coca lam.
Cocaine family — erythroxylaceae

It is an evergreen densely-leaved shrub 2-3 (5) m tall, with small white flowers in the leaf axils.

The leaves are alternate, short-petiolate, entire, elliptic with a pointed tip, thin, bare, 5-10 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. In the praefloration, the leaf plate is longitudinally folded on both sides, and after unfolding it folds in the form of two arcs parallel to the central vein remain on the bottom side. These collenchymatic thickenings under the epidermis are the best diagnostic feature for recognizing coca leaves.

The country of cocaine plant is Peru, Bolivia and the eastern slopes of the Andes. Currently, in the wild it almost never occurs and has long been introduced into the culture of the Indians. It is widely cultivated in all South American countries (especially in Colombia), in tropical and partly in subtropical zones. The culture was also transferred to the countries of Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India) and some African countries.


Coca leaves contain: alkaloids, the total amount of which is 0.5-1.5%.

The main alkaloids in this amount are cocaines. The basis of the structure of cocaine is ecgonine – a derivative of tropane.
The main derivative of ecgonine is the twice methylbenzoyl ecgonine ester, called cocaine. Cocaine contains up to 80% of alkaloids.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

To harvest the leaves, choose plants of different age categories. The optimal age for coca is from two to fifty years. After the leaf senescence, the eaves lose their properties. Depending on the region and climatic conditions during the year, the crop can be harvested two or three times. The first harvesting is carried out in mid-March. The harvesting is performed after a long period of precipitation. The rains tend to weaken the concentration of alkaloids in the foliage. The spring harvest is considered the most effective.

For further harvesting the leaves ripen in late June are suitable. In late October or early November, under favorable conditions, a potential third crop can be obtained.

The semi-dried state of coca leaves provides natural exposure to direct sunlight. The harvested green leaves are placed in a thin layer on prepared woven wool or straw fabric. After sufficient drying, the leaves are packed in fabric bags. It is stored in rooms with sufficient air circulation and low humidity.

Properties and application

Cocaine has a local anesthetic effect, which was first established in 1878 by Russian pharmacologist V.K. Anrep.

This property at a certain stage of development of medicine turned out to be extremely valuable for dental practice and small operations. 1-5% of solutions of cocaine hydrochloride are used for local anesthesia of the conjunctiva and cornea, the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, larynx and dental pulp.

Currently, cocaine is replaced by synthetic means.

Cocaine is used as a preparation causes the great harm to the body. Cocainists destroy their nervous system and die quickly.