Chinese Coca
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Chinese Coca
E Native Photo: Nidhan Singh
Common name: Chinese Coca
Botanical name: Erythroxylum sinense    Family: Erythroxylaceae (Coca family)
Synonyms: Erythroxylum kunthianum, Sethia kunthiana

Chinese Coca is a shrub or small tree, up to 8 m tall, much branched; branchlets warty, young shoots reddish; bark greyish-white, rough, thin; wood white, inside red with white streaks which tum brown on exposure. Leaves are 1.8 - 7 x 0.8 - 2.6 cm, oblong-lanceshaped, lanceshaped, elliptic-lanceshaped, rarely elliptic-obovate, blunt at base, pointed or tapering, rarely blunt at tip, entire, papery, opaque above, pale glaucous brown beneath, midrib prominent, reddish, lateral nerves obscure; young leaves red; leaf-stalks 1-5 mm long; stipules intrapetiolar, subulate, deeply bifid with sawtoothed margin, persistent. Flowers are 2-5 mm long, white, solitary, bisexual; flower-stalks 1.3 cm long, slender, thickened upward. Sepals are 5, rarely 6, free, 1.2 x 3 mm persistent. Petals are 5, 1-2 mm long, elliptic-oblong with a bifid, white strap-shaped appendage near base. Stamens 10, rarely 14, unequal, usually alternately short, staminal tube less than 1 mm long, slender; anthers basifixed, dehiscence longitudinal. Ovary 1 mm long, 3-loculed; styles 3, short, free from base. Drupes are red, 10-14 x 3.5 - 4 mm, oblong-curved, blunt, subtrigonous, shining, with persistent calyx. The bark is reported to be used for chewing with 'Pan'. The wood is light brown, hard and takes a beautiful polish. Chinese Coca is a common undergrowth in evergreen forests up to 1520 m in Meghalaya. Bangladesh and Myanmar. Flowering: March-June.

Identification credit: K.L. Chaudhary Photographed in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya.

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