NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coca plant. Engraving of the twigs, leaves and seed pods of the coca plant, Erythroxylum coca, the source of the drug cocaine. The coca shrub is native to South America, and its leaves have long been chewed by Indians as a stimulant. The shrub grows 1-2 metres tall, and is now cultivated in South America, India, Sri Lanka and Java. Cocaine, a type of alkaloid chemical, was first isolated from coca leaves in 1855. It became widely used as a local anaesthetic, but its use is now restricted due to its addictive nature. Image taken from Coca and its Therapeutic Applications (1890) by Angelo Mariani.
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