Characteristics of Qat / Khat Tree (Catha edulis) in the Wild

Catha edulis
Qat, Khat, or Arabic Tea (Catha edulis) is a type of shrub or small tree originating from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The qat tree is widely grown as an ornamental tree whose leaves are often chewed as an Arab tradition for thousands of years.

Qat contains monoamine alkaloids called cathinones, stimulants similar to amphetamine, which are believed to cause excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. In 1980, WHO classified cathinone as a drug that causes mild or moderate dependence, with a position still below tobacco and alcohol. However, the WHO does not declare Qat as addictive.

QAT SIDE EFFECTS

In the short term, qat can cause several effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, euphoria, hyperactivity, unable to sleep because the body is stimulated, and decreased appetite.

In the long term, qat can also cause several effects, such as depression, hallucinations, slow response to stimuli, increased risk of myocardial infarction, psychosis in extreme cases, oral cancer, and tooth decay.

Some other uncertain effects in the use of qat include death and stroke along with acute coronary syndromes (either from disturbance to symptoms that are infected by qat chewers, apathy and ignorance of the surrounding environment, or pathophysiological mechanisms that are weakened and difficult to understand something).

 

Qat was targeted by anti-drug organizations such as the DEA. Its distribution is controlled in several countries such as the United States, Canada, and Germany, while its cultivation is legalized in other countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen.

 

QAT LEAF CHEWING TRADITION

It is estimated that 5 to 10 million people worldwide use qat every day. It is developed mainly by people in Africa and the Arabian peninsula, where chewing and consuming qat has a long history as a social custom of society dating back thousands of years.

The traditional habit of chewing qat in Yemen is usually only done by men, chewing qat by women is considered impolite and rarely done. Researchers estimate that around 70-80% of Yemenis ie between the ages of 16 and 50 are qat consumers, at least in their spare time. It has been estimated that Yemen spends about 14.6 million people an hour per day chewing the qat tree. Researchers also estimate that families spend about 17% of their income on qat.

 

SPREAD OF QAT TREE IN INDONESIA

In Indonesia, the qat tree is thought to have been introduced by Arab tourists around 2005, especially from Yemen, who often visited Indonesia. However, in early February 2013, this tree and the substances contained in it began to be recognized and indicated as a plant containing narcotics and was banned since the qat case involving artists appeared in the mass media.

The qat tree is widely planted in various regions in Indonesia, especially on the island of Java. Initially, this tree was used to increase stamina and vigor and was also used by Arab travelers and residents for tonic and male enhancement.

Many qat farmers grow this tree because it is very easy to care for and has very promising results throughout the year.

The qat tree planter still cannot be charged with criminal law in Indonesia, qat is known to contain cathinone, namely narcotics class I, and there is still no regulation in the Narcotics Law No. 35 of 2009 which regulates qat. However, users and distributors of qat, including its derivative and processed products, are prohibited in Indonesia and may be subject to criminal law.

 

Characteristics of Qat Leaf

Catha edulis Leaf
Source: africanplants.senckenberg.de

The leaves are 5-10 cm long and 1-4 cm wide.

 

Characteristics of Qat Flower

Catha edulis Flower
Source: africanplants.senckenberg.de

The flowers are very small, with five white petals, and are 4-9 cm long.

 

Characteristics of Qat Fruit

Catha edulis Fruit
Source: africanplants.senckenberg.de

The fruit is square with a capsule that has three valves, each containing 1-3 seeds.

 

Characteristics of Qat Tree

Catha edulis Tree
Source: africanplants.senckenberg.de

The Qat tree is 3-5 meters tall (10 meters high at the equator), depending on climate and rainfall. This tree usually grows in a dry environment at a temperature of 5-35 °C.

It takes almost 7-8 years to produce qat to a sufficient height. In addition to requiring sunlight and water, this qat tree does not require special treatment. Qat trees should be watered frequently starting about a month before they can be harvested to keep the leaves and stems growing soft and moist.

A good qat tree cultivation can be harvested four times a year, this tree provides an additional or main source of income throughout the year for qat farmers.

 

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