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Paullinia cupana - Kunth

Common Name Guarana
Family Sapindaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Habitats Tropical rainforest at elevations up to 800 metres[254 , 303 , 418 ].
Range Northern and western S. America - Brazil.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Paullinia cupana Guarana

Paullinia cupana Guarana


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Native to the Amazon, Paullinia cupana or commonly known as Guarana is an evergreen climbing shrub growing about 13m in height. It has large leaves with five leaflets each leaf, and clusters of small, white flowers. The fruits are small, bright red, and splits open when ripe. Guarana is known for its large and black seeds, which contain high concentration of caffeine. Guarana seeds are used medicinally mainly as stimulant, astringent, and analgesic. It is used against diarrhea, fatigue, headaches and migraines, and mild depression. The seeds can be roasted and pounded to make a paste, which is then used to make a drink, or used as bread flavoring. It is used as a dietary supplement, and in carbonated soft drinks and energy shots. Plants are grown from seeds. However, seeds can become non viable after 72 hours in storage so it has to be sown fresh.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Paullinia cupana is an evergreen Climber growing to 10 m (32ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Paullinia sorbilis Mart.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses: Chocolate  Coffee  Drink

The roasted and pounded seed is made into a paste which is then used to make a stimulating beverage that is rich in caffeine[301 ]. The sweetened paste, called Brazilian chocolate, is used in soft drinks, candy etc[301 ]. The seeds contain 2.7 - 7% caffeine as well as the stimulants theophylline and theobromine[254 , 303 ]. The seeds contain up to 7% of a caffeine-like compound known as guaranine, which is not addictive and takes longer to be metabolized, giving it a gentler, more sustained stimulating effect[238 ]. The seeds are also roasted, pounded, and used as a flavouring in bread[418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidepressant  Antidiarrhoeal  Antipyretic  Astringent  Bitter  Diuretic  Febrifuge  Stimulant  

Guarana seed contains xanthine derivatives, including up to 7% caffeine plus theobromine and theophylline; tannins and saponins[254 ]. It is an astringent, bitter, diuretic herb with a strong, stimulant effect[238 , 254 ]. The seed is said to be antipyretic, antineuralgic and antidiarrhoeal, and is also reputed to be a powerful stimulant, an analgesic comparable to aspirin and an anti-influenza agent[303 ]. The Rainforest tribes have used guarana mainly as a stimulant, astringent and in treating chronic diarrhoea[303 ]. The powdered seed is taken internally to relieve fatigue, aid concentration and lift the spirits[238 ]. One report says that overuse can cause sleeplessness, although less so than caffeine-based drinks[238 ], whilst others say that the stimulating effect is due to caffeine[254 , 303 ]. A useful short-term remedy for boosting energy levels, though it tends to inhibit the body's natural restorative processes if used in the longer term[254 ]. The seed is also taken internally in the treatment of chronic diarrhoea; headaches and migraine; and in the treatment of mild depression[254 ]

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Other Uses None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Guarana is a plant of the humid lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 800 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 32°c, but can tolerate 18 - 38°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about 10°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 1,100 - 3,000mm[418 ]. It does not like a dry season[303 ]. Prefers a position in full sun, also succeeding in light shade[303 , 418 ]. The plant requires a soil that is deep, medium or heavy in texture, well drained and with high organic matter content[303 ]. Traditionally, plants are grown on very acid soils of low fertility with high concentrations of aluminium[303 ]. It grows naturally on gley soils with a pH in the range 3.5 - 4.5[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4 - 5.5, tolerating 3.5 - 6.5[418 ]. Bloom Color: White/Near White.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - must be sown as soon as it is ripe since it loses viability within 72 hours[303 ]. Germination can take more than 100 days[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Guarana, brasilian cocoa, brazilian cocoa, cupana, guaraanaseeme, guarana, guarana (graine de), guarana (paullinia cupana), guarana kletterstrauch, guarana seed, guarana, siemen, guarana-strauch, guaranafrø, guaranasamen, guaranastruik, guaraná, guaraná, semilla de, guaránamag, nasienie paulinii gwarany, pauliniju seklos, paullinia, paullinia cupana seed, paullinia sorbilis, paulliniae semen, paulinijas seklas, seme gvarane, semeno paulinie nápojné, semeno paulínie, uarana, zerriegha tal-gwarana [1-4].

Amazon, Argentina, Australia, Brazil (native), Colombia, Mexico, North America, Peru, SE Asia, Singapore, South America, USA, Venezuela [1-4].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Paullinia yocoYocoClimber15.0 10-12 MLMHSNM420

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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