Its fresh leaves and tops are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea, to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation; it also has anorectic (appetite-reducing) side effects.
The leaves or the soft part of the stem can be chewed with either chewing gum or fried peanuts to make it easier to chew.
However, it can reach heights of up to 10 m (33 ft) in equatorial areas.
Some studies done in 2001 estimated that the income from cultivating khat was about 2.5 million Yemeni rials per hectare, while fruits brought only 0.57 million rials per hectare.
Between 19, the area on which khat was cultivated was estimated to have grown from 8,000 to 103,000 hectares.
Among communities from the areas where the plant is native, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years analogous to the use of coca leaves in South America and betel nut in Asia.
It is a controlled substance in some countries, such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while its production, sale, and consumption are legal in other nations, including Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.
In recent years, however, improved roads, off-road motor vehicles, and air transportation have increased the global distribution of this perishable commodity, and as a result, the plant has been reported in England, Wales, Rome, Amsterdam, Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Water consumption is so high, groundwater levels in the Sanaa basin are diminishing, so government officials have proposed relocating large portions of the population of Sana'a to the coast of the Red Sea.
One reason for khat being cultivated in Yemen so widely is the high income it provides for farmers.However, the attribution was disputed by reports showing the plant extracts from fresh leaves contained another substance more behaviourally active than cathine.In 1975, the related alkaloid cathinone was isolated, and its absolute configuration was established in 1978.In other countries, outside of its core area of growth and consumption, khat is sometimes chewed at parties or social functions.It may also be used by farmers and labourers for reducing physical fatigue or hunger, and by drivers and students for improving attention.It is also known as jimaa in the Oromo language and mayirungi in Luganda Language.