Theobroma cacao





Chocolate tree



Cacaoyer, cacao, cocoa, chocolate tree, God’s tree, kako, pyé kako, gwo kako, …








Central America and South America





Small tree with wide branches and large, elliptic leaves which are pointed at the tips and can reach 15m high. The flowers grow directly on the trunk or on the larger branches and produce cocoa pods which are oval with pointed ends. The seeds (beans) are surrounded by a sweet, white pulp. A pod contain 30-40 seeds. 50 pods are use to produce 2kg of cocoa.

There is 4 major variety : Criollo, Forastero, Trinatrio et Nacional.

Forastero is the most cultivated, given its resistance, productivity and rapid growth. 





This evergreen tree is cultivated in low altitude in humid, shady areas (0-1640 ft)


Culture and care


It needs a warm and humid climate, regular rainfall as well as a fertile and well-irrigated soil. It grows in the shade of the trees, preferably at an altitude of 1,300 to 2,300 feet, in the tropics 20° above and below the equator, sometimes called the "Cocoa Belt". 

The Cacao Tree is a shade tolerant, moisture loving and needs a temperature of 70F year round never lower than 50F.

When very young, they require deep shade. Flowering : April to July and October to January. The first fruiting takes place from the 3rd-4th year.





Medicinal use




Parts used




Directions for use



For asthenia : Decoction with 7 dried seeds in 1 cup (250mL) of water, boil 10min in a covered container. Let cool, filter and drink 1 cup, 3 times a day for 7 days (Source: TRAMIL)






Ornemental use


Very nice indoor plant.


Alimentary use


We use the fermented seeds, then dried, then roasted, then ground to make cocoa. By adding water and sugar, we get chocolate. By adding milk and sugar, we get milk chocolate. If you separate the fat from the cocoa, you get cocoa butter and lean cocoa. If you mix cocoa butter with milk and sugar, you get white chocolate.


Other uses


Cocoa butter is used to treat cracked lips and breasts. Also for dry skin patches or scurf. The shell is used as a nitrogen-rich mulch.




Theobroma means «The food of the gods» in Greek. 

Cocoa as chocolate are words of Aztec origin «cacahualt, xoatl and tchocolatl», meaning bitter drink.




It was offered to the conquistadors when they arrived (the Aztecs believed it was Gods), they found it too bitter and added sugar. That’s how chocolate was born.




Cocoa beans contain in particular caffeine and theobromine, with tonic and stimulating qualities, as well as vitamins A, B, PP, E. In addition, the beans are composed for more than 50% cocoa butter. (Triglycerides of fatty acids).


Today, in most chocolate bars, cocoa butter is replaced by soy lecithin or whatever. Cocoa butter is sold for cosmetics and is expensive. In 1828, Coenraad Johannes Van Houten invented a process to industrially separate lean cocoa (easier to dissolve in water or milk) and cocoa butter.


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