How to Grow Catha Edulis - Khat, Qat, Gat or Miraa

Updated on June 30, 2012

Catha edulis is the name of a shrub or tree that grows in Africa. It is invariably known by other names including khat, gat, qat and miraa, although it has yet many more names in other languages.

Catha edulis is slow-growing, evergreen and requires a tropical or subtropical climate in which to grow, although it can be grown as a large houseplant in cooler areas.

Ideal temperature ranges to grow the khat plant are 5°- 35°C (41°- 95°F). They will not tolerate frost, though all may not not be lost if frost gets your qat plant if the roots were not frozen. In this case it will lose all its leaves, but they may well return as the plant recovers.

They like full sun, but will also tolerate partial sun and even shade.

They like loamy, free-draining soil, and minimal watering. Over-watering kills them off very quickly. They will simply drop their leaves and die when given too much.

Catha edulis can often be seen growing alongside coffee plants, as both like similar conditions.

Catha edulis seeds
Catha edulis seeds | Source
catha edulis, the khat plant
catha edulis, the khat plant | Source

The flowers of khat are greenish-white to cream and small, and appear in clusters on the leaf axils in Spring.

By autumn they have fertilized and turned into reddish-brown 3 lobed seed pods which split open to reveal winged seeds that are carried away in the wind, ready to find a new home where they can hopefully grow into new plants.

Catha edulis propagation

Growing from Seed

  • Plant one seed ¾" deep in a flowerpot filled with vermiculite, sand or cactus compost, or a mixture of all three.
  • Cover the seed with the potting mix.
  • Use a handspray to spray the surface with water, and repeat as required to keep the surface moist but not wet.
  • Place the pot in a bright area that is out of direct sunlight. The seedling should germinate in about a week.
  • Catha edulis seedlings are prone to damping off, so it is a good idea to spray with an anti-mould compound.
  • When seedling appears, gradually move into a sunlit area, turning the plant pot daily to keep the plant growing upright. It will continually stretch towards the sunlight.
  • Re-pot into a larger pot when the roots appear at the bottom of the pot's drainage holes.

Growing from Cuttings

  • Take 2" - 6" semi-ripe cuttings from the tips of branches and place in the same potting mix you would use for seedlings, in pots and trays.
  • Water in well, then allow to dry out completely. Khat cuttings hate water and are very prone to rot.
  • Then simply leave in a light place out of direct sunlight, and give them a spray with water now and again, if you remember.
  • Look for signs of new growth and increase waterings if any appear.
  • Cuttings can take months to root.

Saplings and suckers

  • Catha edulis shrubs frequently throw out suckers and shoots from the base of the main stem, and these will root readily, or can be dug up with roots attached.

How Catha edulis got its name

Catha comes from the Arabic word khat, which is the local name for this plant.

Edulis comes from a Greek word meaning edible.

While edible may not be the exact term for it, khat is certainly chewed by its users, much as cows chew their cuds. The leaves and stems are all chewed, and up to 10 million people per day chew khat daily. This includes men, women and children, through Africa and Asia. Khat even featured in ancient Egyptian culture.

Khat contains a stimulant called cathinone, which acts like an amphetamine giving rise to anxiousness and irritability, after a period of excitability and euphoria.

The World Health Organization defined it as a 'drug of abuse' in 1980, despite it being believed to less addictive than either alcohol or cigarettes.

While catha edulis is legal in plenty countries throughout the world, it is illegal in some. if you plan to grow any, check your local laws first.

Catha edulis flowering plant

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Khattimatti 

        2 months ago

        Im growing myself khat! only one start to grow from seeds and this is its first summer! Nice add to plants that you can grow and enjoy it ;)

      • profile image

        Khatman 

        5 months ago

        Batman hasn't ever had khat by the sounds of it. Is very potent similar to dexidrine or good quality cocaine. If you are lucky enough to get it nowadays blend it and soak a bundle (it is sold in bundles of similar size) it in pure lemon juice for 24 hours drain and drink. One bundle which used to sell for 3 pounds in the UK is plenty for a man and half for a lady

      • profile image

        batman 

        9 months ago

        Khat is over rated, to get buzz you have to chew a kilo of the shrubs . This takes a couple of hours .You better off drinking Red bull or Starbucks coffee.

      • profile image

        Kimland 

        10 months ago

        Irieness. Tell me some more.

        If it grows where you are, you are in heaven. Tell me some more, lady, i wanna grow it.

      • profile image

        Lee 

        12 months ago

        Tips on how to do things they are perfect

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