Cacao Tree (Theobroma cacao)

Watercolor and colored pencil

Cacao or cocoa is a tropical evergreen tree, native to lowland rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Its seeds are used to make one of the world’s most popular substances. Many forms of chocolate can be produced from the fermentation of the seeds, including confectionaries, ice cream, liquor, butter and beverages. Historically, chocolate was used by the Mayans and Aztecs to make a ceremonial drink spiced with chillies. This original use gave way to its latin name which means food (broma) of  the gods (theo). There is also evidence that compounds in cocao beans have medicinal value. Though cacao trees are native to South America, most cacao for the UK chocolate industry is sourced through smallholdings in Western Africa. If done ethically, through Fairtrade, this can benefit local farmers, families and communities in various ways, while protecting the trees’ native rainforest habitat.

For more about this species visit the Eden Project >>

Project: Commissioned for a collection of exemplar species pages during the launch phase of the Encyclopedia of Life ( whose goal is to provide information about every species on the planet.
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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Original: Available

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