Erythroxylum in Focus: An Interdisciplinary Review of an Overlooked Genus

Molecules. 2019 Oct 21;24(20):3788. doi: 10.3390/molecules24203788.


The genus Erythroxylum contains species used by indigenous people of South America long before the domestication of plants. Two species, E. coca and E. novogranatense, have been utilized for thousands of years specifically for their tropane alkaloid content. While abuse of the narcotic cocaine has impacted society on many levels, these species and their wild relatives contain untapped resources for the benefit of mankind in the form of foods, pharmaceuticals, phytotherapeutic products, and other high-value plant-derived metabolites. In this review, we describe the current state of knowledge of members within the genus and the recent advances in the realm of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Keywords: Erythroxylaceae; Erythroxylum coca; bioprospecting; next generation sequencing; traditional medicine; tropane.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythroxylaceae / chemistry*
  • Erythroxylaceae / classification
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • South America


  • Plant Extracts