One of the most magnificent and most incredible trees in the world is the cocoa tree, cocoa.

The botanical name Cocoa tree is 1700. was given by Swedish naturalist Karl Fon Line. Theobroma cacao name comes from ancient Greece and in translation means “the food of gods”. It is interesting that there are several trees belonging to the Theobroma genus, but today only one species is used for making chocolate.

Food of the Gods - Cocoa
The Aztech man wears cacao beans Photo taken from the site

What breeding conditions are needed to grow cocoa?

Elegant tropical cacao trees originated in the equatorial zone of Central and South America, Africa and Asia. Its natural habitat is at an altitude of not more than 600m. To succeed in their growth, the cacao requires a warm climate with a constant temperature from 25° C to 27° C.

The cocoa tree cannot withstand extremely dry or rainy periods, so it would be ideal for the rain to be regular and between 1250 and 2500 mm per year. Where there is less precipitation, the cacao can only be cultivated under irrigation. The cocoa tree is also very sensitive to strong winds and direct sunlight. For this reason, it is best grown in a shade protected by other high plants such as bananas, rubber, and coconut palm trees. The land on which this plant is grown must be rich, slightly acidic, well-draining and good for collecting water when dryness occurs.

The morphology of a cocoa tree?

Cocoa wood is usually medium high of 12 to 15 meters, but it is generally high between 4 and 8 meters due to facilitated harvesting on plantations. Cocoa leaves develop with nodes on branches and have a spiral arrangement. The leaf is elongated-elliptical, and the leaf is compact with flat edges and peristome with a nerve structure, which on average makes about a dozen pairs of leaf nerves. The leaves are sharp and evergreen, between 10 and 40 cm in length, and 5 to 20 cm wide. The flowers are very small and they seem directly from the tree and from the large parts in the form of sheaves. The average diameter of the flower is only 1 to 2 centimeters, while the flower cup is in pink and white shades.

Cocoa bean
Cocoa harvesting Photo taken from the website

Why is cocoa tree so particular?

What makes cocoa tree special is the fact that it flourishes and carries a fly-fruit throughout the year. A special feature is that it has fruit on the tree at the same time. In two six-month cycles, thousands of delicate flowers decorate the stem and main branches. However, only a very small number of them, on average around 40, will eventually develop in the fruit legume. This is because the flowering takes only one day.

As the bud matures, the flower begins to open in the afternoon and continues throughout the night. Early the next morning the flowers are completely open. The flower is made up of a masculine part of the rich pollen that ants and flies transfer to the female part. Thus, from the flower, beans develop which depending on the degree of maturation and variety can be of different shapes, weights, and colors. After matured maturation, there are on average between 20 and 60 cocoa beans surrounded by whitish pulp. Cocoa beans are most important for obtaining chocolate because they produce cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

Is cocoa money or not?

While some of us enjoy the food of the gods and some happier in the fantastic view of the blossoming of a unique cocoa flower, we look back at the records from the past, to the Spanish conquerors and one of their chroniclers who, when he saw this magic tree, said: “Money grows on trees.”

You can read more about the history of chocolate in our posts Sweet chocolate history – part 2 and Sweet chocolate history – part 2