Psychotria nervosa

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Psychotria nervosa
Psychotria nervosa leaves.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Psychotria
Species: P. nervosa
Binomial name
Psychotria nervosa

Psychotria nervosa, also known as Seminole balsamo[1] or wild coffee, is a shade tolerant medium-sized shrub native to Florida as well as the West Indies and Central and South America. It produces a "small, red, ellipsoid fruit" that resembles "the true coffee bean" in shape and attract birds.[2] Its maximum height ranges from approximately 4–10 feet.[2]

Despite its common name of wild coffee, this species is not known to contain any caffeine. In recounting anecdotes from others, the Florida ethnobotanist, Dan Austin, reported that the use of the seeds as a coffee substitute resulted in "only bad taste and terrible headaches." [3] A similar account reported no known usage as a coffee substitute in Jamaica and noted the morphological similarity of its seed to coffee,[4] the more likely reason for its common name being wild coffee. Reports of DMT in this species are also unsubstantiated.

"The leaves of this plant are generally 6 inches long and are narrowly obovate in shape. These glossy green leaves are puckered with impressed veins on the upper surfaces of the leaf blades, and there is pubescence along the veins on the leaf undersides. The shiny, dark green foliage gives a rich texture to any landscape. The small, white inflorescence occurs terminally on the branchlets during the warm months of the year. Each flower is a sessile or stalked, open, short cyme."


  1. ^ "Psychotria nervosa". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Austin, D. 2004. Florida Ethnobotany. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. p. 931.
  4. ^ Pinkley, H.V. 1969. Etymology of Psychotria in view of a new use of the genus. Rhodora 71: 535-540.