Khat scientifically known as Catha Edulis is a slow growing tree or shrub inhabiting the tropical regions of Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. It reaches heights of 1.5 meters to 20 meters depending on the amount of rainfall and soil conditions. The Khat tree produces flowers that grow on small auxiliary cymes of 4 to 8 centimeters long. The flowers are tiny with five white petals each. It also produces a fruit contained in a three-valved capsule enclosing 1 to 3 seeds.
The plant contains the alkaloid called cathinone which is an amphetamine-like stimulant believed to cause loss of appetite, excitement and euphoria. The World Health Organization in 1980 labeled Khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. Anti-drug organizations like the DEA have also targeted the plant. Khat is very much legal for production and sale in many countries whereas some countries consider it to be an illegal or controlled substance.
How to grow Khat?
Khat grows in arid environments and can even grow in the full sun once completely firm. It usually cannot tolerate frosts and over watering would cause the leaves to droop and the plant may eventually die.
Here is a guide to help you grow Khat by yourself:
Growing the seed: Always plant the seeds in either horticultural sand, vermiculite, cactus compost or a mixture of the three media. It is very important that the media should be free draining because Khat seedlings are prone to damping from fungus that kills the small seedlings. You have to plant the seeds about 5 mm deep in pots, mist the surface and place in a warm bright place away from direct sunlight. You have to spray water to the surface whenever the soil dries up. You can also apply Cheshunt Compound with water to prevent mould. With these steps, the seeds will germinate within a week. It is very important to turn the pot regularly as the seedlings tend to grow towards the light. Once the seedlings are 5-10 cm tall, you can transfer them to individual pots.
Potting: Mix house-plant compost and Perlite as the potting mix because Perlite provides good drainage and also keeps enough moisture for the plant.
Cuttings: Cut a 5-20cm length straightforward from the tip of the branch. The cutting should be the current year’s growth. Plant the cuttings out of direct sunlight but do not moist it too much until it show signs of new growth.
Care: You may need to provide support to the khat plant as the young plants are often top heavy with slender stems and tend to bend because of their own weight.