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Cola nitida (kola nut)

A tropical tree from West African rainforests, kola nut seeds are popularly chewed as a caffeine-containing stimulant and are an ingredient in some soft drinks.
Cola nitida (kola nut) flowers

Cola nitida (kola nut) flowers

Species information

Scientific name: 

Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott & Endl.

Common name: 

kola nut, cola, kola, bitter kola (English); Abata cola, gbanja cola, goro cola, labozhi kola (trade names)

Conservation status: 

Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria (although many other Cola species are of conservation concern).


Lowland rainforest; usually in rich, deep soils.

Key Uses: 

Food (stimulant), flavouring for beverages, ceremonial rituals, medicine.

Known hazards: 

Seeds contain caffeine, a stimulant with a range of side-effects.


Genus: Cola

About this species

A tropical tree from West African rainforests, Cola nitida is best known for its caffeine-containing seeds, known as kola nuts. Raw seeds are chewed as a stimulant and have a bitter taste. Kola nuts are used in a variety of local ceremonies and also to produce kola nut extract, which is an ingredient in some soft drinks.

The closely related species Cola acuminata is also sometimes known as kola nut, and its seeds are used in the same ways. Cola nitida and C. acuminata are known as ‘true kolas’, yielding superior seeds for chewing. Although seeds of some other Cola species are suitable for chewing, they are of an inferior quality and are known as ‘false kolas’ or ‘monkey kolas’.


Bichea nitida (Vent.) Farw., Cola vera K.Schum, Sterculia nitida Vent.


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