When did coca plants evolve?
Like potatoes, tomatoes, and tobacco, coca plants grow wild in the Andes Mountains of South America. They probably evolved around the same time as the other flowering plants, around 120 million years ago, in the Cretaceous Period.
Coca plants make a poisonous substance called cocaine in their leaves. That’s probably to make their leaves taste bad and make you feel bad, to keep animals from eating them.
When did people start chewing coca leaves?
Doctors used coca leaves as medicine
People mixed coca leaves with powdered lime (burnt limestone) to make them less acid to chew. Doctors prescribed coca to both men and women to help with arthritis, cancer, or other serious chronic pain.
When did people start to farm coca plants?
By the time the Valdivian people in Ecuador were farming potatoes, about 3000 BC, they were probably also farming coca. By 2000 BC, Norte Chico people were also farming coca. Moche and Inca people, in antiquity and the Middle Ages, also farmed and chewed coca. Inca rulers also sacrificed coca to their gods by burning coca leaves.