Cacao is a tropical tree. The seeds of the cacao tree are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. The origin of cacao is the Amazon area in South America, but highest production is in Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Cacao contains a bitter alkaloid called Theobromine, which has a similar, but lesser, effect to Caffeine.
The pulp of cacao fruits can be eaten fresh, but this is not very common.
Basic information and facts
South America, probably the area including Colombia and Brazil.
Cacao is grown in countries with a suitable hot and humid climate. Highest production of cacao is in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico.
Evergreen or Deciduous:
Cacao is a tropical evergreen tree.
The pink flowers of the cacao tree are about 1 to 2 cm diameter. They grow in clusters directly on the trunk and older branches.
Simple leaves of 10 to 20 cm long.
The cacao pods are fruits that grow directly on the trunk of the tree. The pods have an ovoid shape and are 15 to 30 cm long and 8 to 10 cm wide. Unripe fruits have different colors, often green, red, or purple. When ripe the fruits have usually a yellow or orange color. The fruit contains 20 to 60 seeds surrounded by white pulp. The seeds are sometime called “cacao beans”.
Climate and weather:
Cacao requires a hot and humid climate. It is usually grown under the shade of other trees.
Pollinated by small flies (Diptera)
Cacao is a small tree, about 4 to 8 meters tall.
Cacao is propagated by seeds, airlayers, cuttings or grafts.
Important pests are capsid bugs.
Black pod disease.
Fruits are harvested by had picking. The harvested fruits are opened and the pulp and seeds are removed while the rind is discarded. The pulp and seeds then undergo a fermentation process for several days, which is very important for quality and taste of the final product.
The “cacao beans” (the seeds) are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. The pulp of the fruit can be eaten as a snack or can be fermented to make alcoholic beverage.
Proverbs and Quotes
- Coffee from the top of the cup and chocolate from the bottom.
- When the cocoa ripens, it bursts. (Jamaican proverb)
- Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate. (Sandra Boynton)
Did you know that?
- Mole is a spicy Mexican sauce made mainly from chili peppers and chocolate. It is served with meat.
- Chocolate has been credited with several health benefits; It helps prevent heart disease, it can improve your mood, and it is good for your skin.