Catha edulis

When we are used to always seeing certain types of plants, the day they mention another one that we do not know sometimes arouses our interest. This is just what can happen to Catha edulis, a tree that is quite dangerous if it is not known.

So we are going to avoid problems, and then we will tell you what are the characteristics and uses of this curious plant.

Origin and characteristics

Our protagonist is an evergreen tree or shrub whose scientific name is Catha edulis, although it is popularly known as cat, tschat or miraa. It is native to the tropical areas of East Africa.

It reaches a height between 5 and 8 meters, and has leaves of 5-10cm x 1-4cm, green in color. The flowers, small and composed of five white petals, are grouped in clusters between the leaves with a length of 4 to 8 cm. The fruit is an oblong trivalvate capsule, with 1 to 3 seeds inside.

What uses does it have?

Improper use . It contains psychostimulant molecules, which are cathine and cathinone. To this day, Catha edulis is considered one of the most addictive and powerful psychostimulants, but that is precisely why it is dangerous: regular consumption of qat damages cognitive functions. For all this, in Spain it is restricted to sale only through pharmacists.

However, and although it sounds a bit ironic, its use as an ornamental plant in our country is not prohibited. In others, such as the United Kingdom, an attempt was made to ban in 2006, but without success. And in their places of origin, specifically in the markets, it is sold freely.

Image – Wikimedia/ Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

It is a very beautiful plant, don’t you think? But we all know that sometimes what is beautiful… can be expensive.

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