Cacao grows in hot and humid, high-rainfall areas where the average yearly temperature is higher than 27 degrees and the temperature is relatively consistent.   It can grow to between 7 and 10m in height.
This plant has many large oval leaves at the tip of each branch.
The flower is a cauliflory with 5 petals.  It has 10 stamens but 5 of the 10 are degenerated and inconspicuous.   The flower has no scent.  The flower blooms throughout the year but only one out of a few hundred flowers produce fruit.
The fruit is directly attached to the thick trunk which grows to about 20cm in length and about 10cm in diameter.   This fruit is called cacao-pod.   The Cacao-pod has a clear longitudinal groove and when ripens is orange-yellow or reddish brown.   The inside of the cacao-pod is divided into 5 longitudinal chambers where 30 - 40 seeds are packed in.   The seeds are covered with sweet white sarcocarp which is called pulp.  These seeds are cacao beans.
The beans are removed from the cacao-pod with the pulp to ferment which develops the aroma of cacao-beans.   The cacao-beans are roasted and their skins are pealed.   Then they are grinded to make cacao-paste.   The cacao-paste is separated into about 50 % of cacao-butter and residue which becomes cacao-powder.
The melting point of the cacao-butter is between 31 - 35 degrees (the congealing point is 45 - 50 degrees) and its quality is stable, so it is used as a suppository base or cosmetics base.   The cacao-powder is a raw material for cocoa and the cacao-paste is a raw material for chocolate. The seed contains purine alkaloids, about 3% of theobromine and about 0.08% of caffeine.   These compounds have central stimulant, cardiotonic, and diuretic actions.   The seed also contains tyramine which has a vasoconstrictor action and nickel.
The genus name, Theobroma consists of two Greek words, "theo" which means God's and "broma" which means food.
Classification Sterculiaceae Theobroma
Scientific name Theobroma cacao 'Flore Pleno'
Japanese name Kakao-noki
English name Cacao
Native locality Tropical America
Ecological description Evergreen small tree
RDB ---
Planting place Sun Gallery
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Kyoto Botanical Gardens (Tropical Useful Crop Gh.)