More images of Cacao
This small evergreen tree, native to the tropical regions of Mexico, is famous for its seeds (cocoa beans) which are used to make chocolate. In its natural habitat, this species grows in clumps along river banks, where its roots may be flooded for long periods of the year. Cocoa grows in a spindly habit, 5 – 8 m tall, often in the shade of giant trees occupying the top layer of the rain forest. Its flowers are pollinated by midges, and approximately only 5% of flowers receive enough pollen to start fruit development. Interestingly, it was over 2,000 years ago that the edible properties of Theobroma cacao were discovered in Central America. Today, world cocoa production is over 4 million tonnes.
Special features of Cacao
Other uses of Cacao
The egg-shaped fruit ("cocoa pod") contains 30 – 40 seeds, which, when dried and fermented in the sun, are known as cocoa beans.