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Is there a caffeine plant/tree I could grow in my area?

 
Cody Pickett
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Hello I'm new to the site and a total noob when it comes to growing anything. I'm really interested in growing coffee but I don't think I'll be able to grow it here so I was wondering if I could find something else that has caffine that I could grow in my area. I live in indiana, in fountain county it's an hour away from indianapolis. I'm hoping there will be something possible to grow here. I plan on trying to grow some tobacco next year.
I'm a noob to the site so if I did something wrong or posted this in the wrong place I'm sorry.  Thank you for your time hope everyone has a great day
 
Kyrt Ryder
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In hardiness zone 6 you should be able to grow Tea [Camellia Sinensis] in an unheated greenhouse that's loaded with thermal mass and reasonably insulated. Some varieties might survive outdoors but you're at the extreme edge of that possibility.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria should grow there.  https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_ilvo.pdf
 
Cody Pickett
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Wow thanks for the fast response guys. Well which of the 2 listed would you suggest a noob like me to try to get into?
 
Cody Pickett
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria should grow there.  https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_ilvo.pdf


After reading that pfd Tyler I think this would be the one that's better for a noob. Would you guys agree?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Oh shucks.  It looks like Yaupon may only be marginally hardy in your area - maybe could be planted in a warm spot?  http://hort.ufl.edu/trees/ILEVOMA.pdf
 
Cody Pickett
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Oh shucks.  It looks like Yaupon may only be marginally hardy in your area - maybe could be planted in a warm spot?  http://hort.ufl.edu/trees/ILEVOMA.pdf


you got my hopes up haha!!! Well where do I go from here?
 
Cody Pickett
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So are these the only others with caffine? Or just the only ones that I have a chance growing or are there more?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think tea and yaupon are the most cold-hardy plants that contain caffeine.  Others seem to be subtropical or tropical.
 
Cody Pickett
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Well of the 2 what do you think I'd have a better chance/experience with?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yaupon is the most cold hardy, so I would try first with that, personally.   I think it is also much less fussy as to soil and water needs compared to Tea, from what I'm reading.

 
Cody Pickett
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I guess that's my best option then. Either way even if I fail I will learn from it so no loss really but a couple bucks for seeds. Thank you everyone. Am I supposed to end the thread or say it's solved or do I just leave it open?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Looks like it's solved, but other people might want to add their own experiences with growing these plants, and give you more ideas about how you might do it.

 
Anne Miller
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My first thought was Chicory since it is a coffee substitute.  And yes it grows in Indiana, so you might be able to find some growing wild.

Purdue University list of Herb, Aromatic, Medicinal, Bioactive Crops

Here are some comments when I tried to search for what plants have caffeine:

Caffeine isn't a primary compound in plants. It doesn't serve a function that a plant naturally needs to live. Therefore you will be hard pressed to find many plants that contain caffeine in the wild. Almost all caffeine comes from either seeds or leaves. Only about 100 plants contain some form of caffeine, most being minimal. Probably people with expertise locally with edible plants could help you more, I just know caffeine isn't primarily found in a lot of North American plants.

The plant with the most caffeine in North America is the Ilex vomitoria and various varieties of said. It's the North American equivalent of Yerba Mate. Don't let the name bother you. The Indians made an extra strong brew for ceremonies to induce vomiting. In every day use they made a milder brew with steamed green leaves and lightly roasted leaves. Details are on my website.

Three common commercial varieties of Ilex vomitoria are Ilex nana and Ilex schiller (female and male dwarf versions for hedging) and Ilex vomitoria var. pendula (an ornamental which if fed nitrogen has more caffeine than any plant.)

According to Jim Pojar, in his book "Plants Of The Pacific Northwest Coast," The dried ground up seeds of Scotchbroom (classified invasive in Oregon, don't know about your part of the region) can be used as a coffee substitute.

After many years at this it has been my experience that nothing is a substitute for coffee. One plant, goosegrass, hmmm, Galium aparine, comes close in flavor but no caffeine. It is in the same family as coffee, oddly, and its roasted seeds are coffeesque. Add some Ilex vomitoria leaves and you might have a famine coffee substitute with caffeine. But it ain't coffee. Close, but no cigar.

Brooms, which a non-native, are usually listed as toxic.

We used to roast barley then grind it to mix with our coffee, it lowers the caffeine and greatly reduces the price of your coffee.

My parents roasted barley during the Great Depression as a coffee substitute.

Today we buy roasted barley at the grocery store. Mix it 50/50 with coffee grounds. It costs $1.29/pound.

We have been growing mint for years, which we harvest and dry. We use mint in our teas and many cooking recipes.

This year we planted chamomile and tea-trees. So we hope to produce them both in the future.


 
Cody Pickett
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Anne Miller wrote:My first thought was Chicory since it is a coffee substitute.  And yes it grows in Indiana, so you might be able to find some growing wild.

Purdue University list of Herb, Aromatic, Medicinal, Bioactive Crops

Here are some comments when I tried to search for what plants have caffeine:

Caffeine isn't a primary compound in plants. It doesn't serve a function that a plant naturally needs to live. Therefore you will be hard pressed to find many plants that contain caffeine in the wild. Almost all caffeine comes from either seeds or leaves. Only about 100 plants contain some form of caffeine, most being minimal. Probably people with expertise locally with edible plants could help you more, I just know caffeine isn't primarily found in a lot of North American plants.

The plant with the most caffeine in North America is the Ilex vomitoria and various varieties of said. It's the North American equivalent of Yerba Mate. Don't let the name bother you. The Indians made an extra strong brew for ceremonies to induce vomiting. In every day use they made a milder brew with steamed green leaves and lightly roasted leaves. Details are on my website.

Three common commercial varieties of Ilex vomitoria are Ilex nana and Ilex schiller (female and male dwarf versions for hedging) and Ilex vomitoria var. pendula (an ornamental which if fed nitrogen has more caffeine than any plant.)

According to Jim Pojar, in his book "Plants Of The Pacific Northwest Coast," The dried ground up seeds of Scotchbroom (classified invasive in Oregon, don't know about your part of the region) can be used as a coffee substitute.

After many years at this it has been my experience that nothing is a substitute for coffee. One plant, goosegrass, hmmm, Galium aparine, comes close in flavor but no caffeine. It is in the same family as coffee, oddly, and its roasted seeds are coffeesque. Add some Ilex vomitoria leaves and you might have a famine coffee substitute with caffeine. But it ain't coffee. Close, but no cigar.

Brooms, which a non-native, are usually listed as toxic.

We used to roast barley then grind it to mix with our coffee, it lowers the caffeine and greatly reduces the price of your coffee.

My parents roasted barley during the Great Depression as a coffee substitute.

Today we buy roasted barley at the grocery store. Mix it 50/50 with coffee grounds. It costs $1.29/pound.

We have been growing mint for years, which we harvest and dry. We use mint in our teas and many cooking recipes.

This year we planted chamomile and tea-trees. So we hope to produce them both in the future.




Thanks for the detailed message.  I do like your idea of cutting the coffee with barley I might try that sometime. So to sum it up do you think I could pull it off or no? Growing vomitoria I mean
 
Cody Pickett
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I will also look into chicory thank you!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Chicory does not contain caffeine.
 
Anne Miller
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Most of those were just comments I found but you can grow it indoors in a pot. 

Yerba Mate
 
John Weiland
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Just an FYI.  If it's the caffeine that is important, there may be a fungal source down the road that could be added back to a brew of your choice:

"Caffeine, a notable alkaloid in tea (Camellia sinensis L.) (Theaceae) and coffee (Coffea arabica L.) (Rubiaceae) with important physiological, sociological and commercial implications, is also produced by plants such as "mate" (Ilex paraguariensis St. H.) (Aquifoliaceae), "guaraná" (Paullinia cupana Mart.) (Sapindaceae) and "cola" (Cola acuminata Schott & Endl.) (Sterculiaceae) (Harborne et al., 1999). Recently, caffeine has even been found in anthers of Citrus spp. (Kretschmar & Baumann, 1999). Caffeine is biosynthesised from adenine and methionine in tea (Suzuki & Takahashi, 1976). Fungi have not previously been recognized as having the genome for such types of alkaloidal secondary metabolites, which are unique purine derivatives without a pentose, although Turner (1971) mentions a small group of adenosine derivatives containing a pentose, notably including cordycepin from Cordyceps militaris (Fr.) Link and Aspergillus nidulans Link. Ergot fungi (Claviceps sp.), taxonomically close to Cordyceps sp., usually produce classical ergot alkaloids based on the tetracyclic ergoline ring system. However, analysis of C. sorghi sclerotia and submerged culture identified a polar component as the alkaloid caffeine, which was identified by its characteristic electron impact mass spectrum (GC-MS)."

from:  http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-41582003000400019
 
Thekla McDaniels
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And, if summer doesn't come and you aren't producing  caffeine, once you are over the withdrawal from caffeine, maybe you would be quite happy with a robust flavor like roasted chicory and or roasted barley.  You could maybe get started growing those and experimenting with them, then keep a few months supply of coffee or tea on hand.  If summer doesn't come, begin the transition to your substitutes.  

Aren't there other stimulants?  Not that coca is legal, but it's an example.  Cocoa has theobromine, a stimulant (I have no idea how it compares to caffeine, but it is very active, a derivative or sister compound historically and possibly currently used to treat asthma).  Cacao is probably not a temperate plant either but I am just trying to say there are other stimulants.

Possibly a search through plant databases could yield some herbal stimulants that do not have a high abuse potential, and are easy to grow.   Possibly there are plenty of stimulants that have been eclipsed by the caffeine in tea and coffee.  It seems like most plants have one form of alkaloid or another.
 
Lee Bewicke
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:In hardiness zone 6 you should be able to grow Tea [Camellia Sinensis] in an unheated greenhouse that's loaded with thermal mass and reasonably insulated. Some varieties might survive outdoors but you're at the extreme edge of that possibility.

There is a tea house/ farm in Ithica new york growing tea outside. I believe they planted seed from the moutain regions of China.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I just did a quick search for plants that produce stimulants, found this page:

http://www.motherherbs.com/stimulant.html

with this info:

"Stimulants are herbs that increase alertness, wakefulness, energy and feeling of wellbeing. In addition to stimulating the central nervous system, most stimulants also increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and produce a sense of euphoria. Stimulants increases blood pressure, heart beat rate and respiration.

Stimulants mainly used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. Stimulants can be used as recreational drugs or therapeutic drugs to increase alertness. They are also used and sometimes abused to boost endurance and productivity as well as to suppress appetite."


and a long list of plants.

The list includes some plants I am familiar with, Datura / Jimson Weed among them, which I have always been told is a very powerful plant (mother said poisonous others say sacred, so we know what that means).  Anyone looking for stimulants from this list would need to research the effects of the plant VERY carefully.

On the other hand, the list is a good starting place for a search for various stimulant herbs, and for anyone interested in medicine from plants.  Plenty of the plants on the list are "tropical " plants, but one I grow, vetiver, which although tropical, grows in 5 gallon pots quite well, and in protected warm places just for the massive root systems to get deep soil development.  I have been growing it for the fragrant roots, but now I have learned that I can make tea from the roots.  I can't wait to try it.

Then there is Nigella sativa, also known as black cumin and "love in a mist".   An annual that reseeds itself readily, needs almost no soil, and is used as a filler and an easy ornamental.  I have used it as a "weed preventer".  It comes in thick where ever it gets a chance, making it difficult for anything else to grow.  It has very shallow roots making it easy to pull up when it is in the way.

Also on the list, by its scientific name, is what most people call "puncture vine" or "goat heads".  Interesting uses for that plant as well. 

An important  thing to note is that though I had in mind stimulant as in caffeine, this list is of plants that stimulate a multitude of different body functions, not just increased blood flow to the brain and increased blood pressure and insulin secretion.

Depending what else happens today, I may take my search further, as I am enjoying it so much.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:The list includes some plants I am familiar with, Datura / Jimson Weed among them, which I have always been told is a very powerful plant (mother said poisonous others say sacred, so we know what that means).  Anyone looking for stimulants from this list would need to research the effects of the plant VERY carefully.

I once met a German guy who had been permanently damaged by trying datura recreationally just a single time. He said he doesn't remember several weeks afterwards, and it took him weeks to regain the manual dexterity to tie his own shoes. No chance of resuming his machinist career, and when I knew him, he was a pretty spaced out, damaged person, a couple of years after the datura incident.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Yes, very strong effects.  I also once met a guy who had tried it.  (backup  fire fighter at the station where I worked, came on stand-by while some of our crew was on a fire) He said he sat motionless on the couch for a day or day and a half.  I asked him didn't his roommates want to take him to the ER or anything and he said no, they knew what he was trying.  (early 70s when I had the conversation with him)  I concluded he must have been into big time recreational drug use.... and his "friends" as well.

I guess the only difference between "total" recovery, permanent damage,  and death would be the amount ingested.

I also know that the pre european tribes in California considered it a holy plant and its wide range was considered to be because they had transported the seeds and introduced them all over everywhere.  And when they used the plant they had the benefit of generations of traditional use, and followed those traditions "religiously".
 
Dan Boone
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I am interested in the very long list of things that have been roasted and ground to be brewed up as a "substitute" for coffee, which in most cases means they make a flavorful dark brew to drink when coffee is unobtainable.  My notion is that if a person could grow one of the caffeine plants, you might still want to then mix that plant with the best of the "dark brew" substitutes, or possible with a mixture of them.

Today I was pulling okra seeds out of a pod I let mature in order to make the seeds, when I began to wonder if okra seeds could be grown to maturity and used like soup peas or beans.  I am still researching that, but I did discover that back in the day, okra seeds had their fans as a "makes a dark brew" non-caffeinated coffee substitute:





( source )
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Wow, Dan, where did you ever come up with that Civil War era newspaper clipping?  Great stuff, thanks for posting.

Though the thread is about caffeine plants, in my area it is easier to give up the caffeine habit than grow my own.  The tea camellia would possibly grow here, but would need some tending to protect from dry desert air and harsh desert sun.  If I did grow tea, I would  have to do just as you said, use a little with a lot of something else.  Something like okra seeds!
 
Dan Boone
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Wow, Dan, where did you ever come up with that Civil War era newspaper clipping?
  It came up on a blog at the University of North Carolina when I was searching on "okra seeds as food" and similar searches.
 
Dan Boone
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I don't think this is practical but I may have a theoretical caffeine plant to add to the temperate list. 

There's a free-to-download .pdf at this page analyzing in some detail the amount of caffeine and related purine alkaloid compounds (including theobromine, the good stuff in chocolate) in citrus flowers.  Now, mostly citrus is not a temperate plant, but they also analyzed the near-citrus Poncirus trifoliata (trifoliate orange) which I am growing here in zone 7 and which is said to be hardy to zone 6.

The study uses serious chemist units (nmols per gram to the negative 1 exponent) that I can't easily compare the milligram units usually used to discuss the amount of caffeine in a coffee bean.  But there's a bit of a road map in there.  At one point they generalize that one citrus flower contains about fifty micrograms of caffeine, and if I'm reading their table correctly, the trifoliate orange has about half as much as the average of the four citrus they measured, so let's say 25 micrograms.  If there's six milligrams in the average roasted Arabica coffee bean, that implies you'd need pick about 240 citrus flowers to replace the caffeine in one coffee bean. 

My trifoliate oranges aren't to the flowering stage yet and I have never seen one of the "mother" trees where I got my seed when they are in flower.  But they are thorny trees and I'm guessing the price in blood you would pay to pick the flowers is way too high by the time you had enough.  Darn it!
 
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