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Cola acuminata is a tall tree, native to tropical Africa, with yellow flowers that ripen into walnut-sized, reddish-brown seeds. The seeds are referred to as kola nuts, which are bitter tasting, contain caffeine, and symbolize peace and friendship for many cultures. Traditionally, small pieces of the nut were chewed before meals to support digestion. Kola nut has been used for thousands of years in African folk herbalism for their beneficial properties and are often infused or extracted. Tropical Africa is the native home of the towering kola tree growing up to 40 feet (13 meters) tall. Its yellow flowers tinged with purple bear reddish-brown seeds about the size of a walnut with almost no taste but rich in caffeine. The tree is a member of the Sterculiaceae family and also goes by the name of ghanja cola. The Igbo, a tribe in southern Nigeria, consider the kola nut tree to be the first tree (and fruit) on earth. They consider the nut to be a symbol of hospitality, kindness and fraternity. Throughout Western Africa, a small piece of nut is chewed before each meal to promote digestion. It was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century by Portuguese traders. The nut is also thought to improve the flavor of any food and to counteract the effects of drinking tainted water. Kola, as its name suggests, is a main ingredient in many traditional colas. In herbal medicine, the nut is usually soaked in alcohol to make tinctures. May be taken as tea although bitter, and the powder can be taken as a capsule. Kola nut was used as the main ingredient in cola drinks for many years but is now mainly used as a flavoring agent.
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