coca

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coca

(kō`kə), common name for shrubs of the genus Erythroxylum, particularly E. coca, of the family Erythroxylaceae, and found abundantly in upland regions and on mountain slopes of South America, as well as in Australia, India, and Africa. Certain South American peoples chew the leaves of one of several species mixed with an alkali, lime, which acts with saliva to release the drug cocainecocaine
, alkaloid drug derived from the leaves of the coca shrub. A commonly abused illegal drug, cocaine has limited medical uses, most often in surgical applications that take advantage of the fact that, in addition to its anesthetic effect, it constricts small arteries,
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 from the leaves. In the low doses obtained in this way, the drug acts as a stimulantstimulant,
any substance that causes an increase in activity in various parts of the nervous system or directly increases muscle activity. Cerebral, or psychic, stimulants act on the central nervous system and provide a temporary sense of alertness and well-being as well as
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 and an appetite depressant with physiological effects similar to those of tobaccotobacco,
name for any plant of the genus Nicotiana of the Solanaceae family (nightshade family) and for the product manufactured from the leaf and used in cigars and cigarettes, snuff, and pipe and chewing tobacco.
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. Coca leaves have been used for at least 8,000 years. Until the time of the Spanish conquest, only the Inca aristocracy was privileged to chew the coca leaves, but afterward, the Spanish encouraged the enslaved Native Americans all to use coca in order to get them to endure long periods of heavy labor and physical hardships. A cocaine-free extract of coca leaves is used in some soft drinks. Coca, a different plant than the cocoa plant cacaocacao
, tropical tree (Theobroma cacao) of the family Sterculiaceae (sterculia family), native to South America, where it was first domesticated and was highly prized by the Aztecs. It has been extensively cultivated in the Old World since the Spanish conquest.
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, is grown commercially in the N and central Andean countries and in Sri Lanka, Java, and Taiwan. Much coca is also grown in Andean countries for the illegal international drug trade. Coca is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Linales, family Erythroxylaceae.

Coca

 

(Erythroxylon coca), a shrub of the tropical family Erythroxylaceae, measuring 1–3 m high (sometimes 5 m). The leaves are broadly elliptical or obovate. The flowers, which are in the axils, are small, yellowish white, and five-petaled. The elongated red fruits are drupes. The coca bush almost never grows wild. It is cultivated in the tropics of South America and Asia. Coca leaves contain cocaine (up to 1.3 percent) and other alkaloids. One bush yields up to 5 kg of dry leaves per year. The leaves are harvested three to five times per season.

coca

[′kō·kə]
(botany)
Erythroxylon coca. A shrub in the family Erythroxylaceae; its leaves are the source of cocaine.

coca

1. either of two shrubs, Erythroxylon coca or E. truxiuense, native to the Andes: family Erythroxylaceae
2. the dried leaves of these shrubs and related plants, which contain cocaine and are chewed by the peoples of the Andes for their stimulating effects