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a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs of the family Rubiaceae. There are approximately 50 species, found in the tropics and subtropics of Africa and Asia. Four or five species are grown in the warm countries of both hemispheres. The common, or Arabian, coffee tree (Coffea arabica) is a small tree with lateral branches; coriaceous, dark green, opposite leaves; and large, fragrant, white flowers. The bright red or bluish purple drupe-like fruits have juicy flesh and contain two flat convex seeds, or coffee beans. It is primarily this species that is grown to obtain high quality coffee. The common coffee tree is native to Ethiopia.

The cultivation of coffee began in the 14th and 15th centuries in the Arabian Peninsula. It was only in the 18th century that coffee was imported to Brazil, where up to 50 percent of the world’s coffee plantations are located today (more than 442 billion trees). One tree yields about 1 kg of seeds (approximately 2 tons per hectare). The species C. liberica and C. canephora (C. robusta) are grown less frequently. Some species are grown as ornamentals.


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Siniagin, I. I. Tropicheskoe zemledelie. Moscow, 1968.
Wellman, F. L. Coffee: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. London-New York, 1961.