Kratom trees, most commonly classified by its genus and species names: Mitragyna Speciosa Korth, has an average height of 12–30 ft (3.7–9.1 m) and a circumference of 15 ft (4.6 m) wide at its leafiest point. Some trees have been found that actually top out at over 95 feet. Kratom leaves are oval or ovate-lanceolate and dark, glossy, green in color. Leaves can grow up to 7” in length and almost 4” in width. The veins are greenish-white (known as “white vein” or “green vein”) or red (known as “red vein”). The “green or white vein” is reportedly more potent. The average weight of a fresh, dried leaf is between a ½ gram to 2 grams. During its flowering stage, the tree can yield up to 120 yellow and globular florets. The fruit from this flower mirrors a capsule in shape and produces small, flat seeds.
Mitragyna Speciosa Korth, part of the Rubiaceae (coffee) family, is a tropical tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, the Philippines and New Guinea although it is now being cultivated in other regions. It’s most dominate locations are Thailand (referred to as “ Kratom ”, “kakuam”, “ithang” or “thom”) and Malaysia (referred to as “Ketum” or “Biak-Biak”) with recent cultivations becoming dominate in Indonesia (known as “Bali” or “Indo” Kratom ). The leaf of the tree has been historically used for its medicinal and energy-producing properties by chewing the leaves or making tea. The tree was first documented by the Dutch botanist, Korthals. Korthals gave the genus its name because the stigmas in the first species he examined resembled the shape of a bishop’s mitre. Other species of Mitragyna found in India and Asia include: M. Tubulosa, M. Parvifolia, M. Hirsuta, M. Diversifolia, M. Rotundifolia and M. Kuntze. M. Ciliate, M. Inermis, M. Stipulosa and M. Africanus widely grow in West Africa.
Over 25 alkaloids have been isolated from Kratom. The most abundant alkaloids consist of three indoles and two oxindoles. The three indoles are mitragynine, paynanthine, and speciogynine – the first two of which appear to be unique to this species. The two oxindoles are mitraphylline and speciofoline. Other alkaloids present include other indoles, and oxindoles such as ajmalicine, corynanthedine, mitraversine, rhychophylline, and stipulatine.
Kratom has been used in Thailand for centuries, recreationally and as an antidiarrhetic. Its use as an opiate substitute in Malaysia was reported in the nineteenth century. Laborers have used it to counteract the tedium of physical labor, similar to the use of coca in South America. The chemistry was investigated in the 1920s, and mitragynine was isolated in 1923. Kratom leaves became part of the ethnobotanical trade in the United States and Europe in mid 2000.