While the alkaloids in Erythroxylum coca provide the plant with powerful protection, some organisms still find a way to take Coca plant with seeds. Used with permission from wildimages.tvadvantage it.

One of the most serous threats to the coca plant is the larvae of a moth by the name of Eloria noyesi. This moth lives through out the region of South America where coca is grown and likes to feed exclusively on E. coca. The larvae likes to primarily feed on the leaves or shoots of the bush, and is capable of devouring up to 50 leaves in it's lifetime. If Eloria noyesiis repeatedly attacks the plant, even a strong and healthy plant can die.

Another enemy of the Truxillo species of the coca plant is the beetle Aegoidus pacificus. After the beetle lays it's eggs in the bark of the coca plant, the larvae burrow into the stem and not only do physical damage to the plant, but also allow for an infestation of pathogenic fungi. This infestation usually results in the death of the coca plant.

The larvae of Eucleodora coca, a fly, also poses a threat to E. truxillense. The larvae of this fly spend their entire lives feeding on the shoots and leaves of the coca plant, with major infestations usually occurring between April and August.

Up close of coca leaves and seeds. Use with permission from leaf-cutting ant, Acromyrmex, has also been reported to cause the coca plant harm. Besides destroying the leaves, these ants cut into the roots and the bark, leaving the plant seriously damaged and vulnerable to infections.

Most other insects which do attack the coca plant only do so out of deficiency of their normal food supply. Insects like spider mites, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, and beetles are often times find it necessary to eat the coca plant or face starvation.


Besides insects, the coca plant is also vulnerable to numerous of pathogenic fungi. Wet seasons bring the greatest threat to the plant since the fungi generally thrive in wet or moist conditions. The fungus that is responsible for the most harm to E. coca is known as "withces broom".


Uses of the coca plant
The integration of coca into human lives dates back farther than we can imagine. The most notable origin of the use of E. coca is by the Inca Empire, where coca plant was a vital part of religious cosmology, which at first was restricted to nobility and few other higher classes, but later spread to practically everyone.
Tea with coca leaves. Used with courtesy from Wikimedia Commons.Besides the religious practices of the Andean tribes, E. coca has been used for several different medicinal purposes. Even now coca leaves and it's alkaloids are being used by some of the communities in the Andes for warding off fatigue, thirst, and hunger. When the coca made it's way to Europe, its alkaloid, cocaine, was found to be a powerful anesthetic for use in surgery. It was said to be useful in overcoming many forms of asthma, gastric derangements, pain, and as a cure for morphine or alcohol cravings. In our current day and age, cocaine has very little medical use and has been replaced by synthetic anesthetics, such as benzocaine, tetracaine, and proparacaine, which do not poses as harmful side effects as cocaine.

Click here to find out about curare whose leaves are also used for medicinal purposes.


The coca plant is also used for non-medicinal purposes as well. Several types of food, such as coca tea, granola bars and various candies are commercially manufactured, mostly in the Andes. Cosmetic and food industries also found a use for the coca plant, such as the de-cocainized coca leaf extract which is used as one of the flavoring ingredients of Coca-Cola. Probably one of the biggest uses of the coca plant is for its cocaine. In many countries, such as the United States and the UK. Cocaine is one of the most popular recreational drugs, only second to Cannabis.




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