Cacao Plant (Theobroma cacao)

Theobroma cacao is a small understory tree native to the American tropical rainforest, which has evolved to utilize the shade of the heavy canopy.  It originated in clumps along riverbanks in the Amazon basin on the eastern equatorial slopes of the Andes.

 

The cacao tree is a small and handsome evergreen tree, growing from 12 to 25 feet high, and branching at the top; when cultivated it is not allowed to grow so high. The stem is erect, straight, 4 to 6 feet high; the wood light and white; the bark thin, somewhat smooth, and brownish. The seeds are numerous, compressed, 1 inch long, reddish-brown externally, dark-brown internally, and imbedded in a whitish, sweetish, buttery pulp.

The pods come in a rainbow of colors from green to yellow, red and purple. Some pods are striped with two and even three colors at full maturity. There could be no easier display than an eye-catching grouping of cacao pods on a simple table.  



Cacao plants are cultivated in rainforest habitats throughout the tropics, a small understory tree native to the American tropical rainforest, which has evolved to utilize the shade of the heavy canopy.

Cacao trees grow and bear fruit in a band 20 degrees north and south of the equator. They thrive on tropical rains and partial shade. Cacao can be grown in South Florida given attention to a few specific conditions. The largest number of species are found in northwestern South America, where the tree is native. However over half of the world supply of commercial Cacao comes from two East African countries.

For more information how to Grow Cacao in South Florida, Click Here

 

 Cacao at Fairchild

Visit The Edible Garden, Tropical Fruit Pavilion and the Simons Rainforest at Fairchild to see our cacao trees and fruit.