We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Erythroxylum coca - Lam.

Common Name Coca, Little Coca
Family Erythroxylaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Habitats Amazon rainforest.
Range S. America - northern Brazil, Bolivia, Peru.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Erythroxylum coca Coca, Little Coca

Erythroxylum coca Coca, Little Coca


Translate this page:


Erythroxylum coca, otherwise known as Coca or Little Coca, is an evergreen small tree growing up to 3.5 m tall. It has straight branches, thin leaves that are opaque and oval, and small flowers. It is commonly found in South America particularly in northern Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. The leaves contain cocaine and other alkaloids. Such alkaloids are extracted and used to make various pharmaceutical drugs.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Erythroxylum coca is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
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 and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Erythroxylum bolivianum Burck, Erythroxylum chilpei E.Machado, Erythroxylum coca var. coca

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink  Tea

Edible portion: Leaves - tea. The dried leaves yield a substance called cocaine which is a stimulant. The leaves are used to make coca "wine". The leaves are chewed as a masticatory. The extract from the nut is used to flavour drinks, candy and alcoholic drinks.

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.
Anaesthetic  Narcotic  Stimulant  Tonic

The leaves contain cocaine and other alkaloids. They are narcotic, cerebral-stimulant and locally anaesthetic[ 46 ]. The alkaloids are extracted and used to make various pharmaceutical drugs, including a local anaesthetic[ 46 , 348 ]. Chewed with lime or plant ashes the leaves cause a feeling of easiness and increasing energy. Therefore they are used by native peoples as a stimulant to better endure hunger, thirst and physical stress[ 317 ]. An infusion of the leaves serves also as remedy for altitude sickness, the feared 'soroche'[ 317 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of moderate to higher elevations in the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 17 - 23°c, but can tolerate 14 - 27°c[ 418 ]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -5°c or lower, but young growth will be severely damaged at -1°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,100mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,000mm[ 418 ]. Widely cultivated in the Andean region of the tropics, where it locally also occurs wild, the plant is not easy to cultivate elsewhere, and it is little known in other parts of the world. In South-East Asia, it is only grown in botanical gardens, not as a crop[ 310 ]. The form Erythroxylum coca ipadu is only found as a cultivated plant in Amazonian lowland rain forest areas[ 310 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[ 418 ]. Succeeds in most fertile, well-drained soils[ 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8[ 418 ]. Plants take 1 - 3 years from seed to the first harvest, and then have an economical life of around 20 years[ 418 ]. Annual yields are up to 2 tonnes/ha of dried leaves[ 418 ]. Flowering Time: Late Winter/Early Spring Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer Mid Summer. Bloom Color: White/Near White.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Plants are grown by cuttings. Seed.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Coca, coca plant, cocae folium, cocal, cocalier, cocaïer, erythroxylon coca, ipadu, koka, kokabuske, kokastrauch,

Africa, Andes, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Peru, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, South America, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, West Africa,

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

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.


Expert comment



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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Erythroxylum coca  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.