Theobroma cacao / Cocoa live plant
Plant Size : 8" - 12" Inches
This species is widely cultivated in lowland tropical areas around the world for its seed, the source of chocolate. It was grown by the Aztecs and Mayans, who considered it a divine plant and even used the seeds as a form of currency. As well as food, the trees also provided them with a wide range of commodities including medicine, fiber and materials for construction.
An understorey plant of evergreen rainforest in the wet humid tropics, growing in places that are not usually seasonally inundated
The dried, fermented and roasted seeds of this plant, called cacao beans, are the source of cocoa, chocolate and cocoa butter.These are widely used in the confectionery industry to made chocolate confections, cakes, ice cream, drinks etc.The somewhat bitter flavour is usually moderated by adding sugar or other sweeteners.The seed contains up to 50% fat.The ripe seeds are cured by pressing, fermenting and then drying them.The cured seeds are then roasted and ground into a powder to make cocoa A butter-like fat (called cocoa butter) is extracted from the seeds.The fruit contains about 20 - 40 seeds surrounded by a thin, succulent pulp with a slightly sweet flavour.This pulp is sucked as a sweet snack.It can be made into juices and jellies.The seed contains a pigment that is said to be useful as a food coloring
Although used mainly as a food, cacao does also have some therapeutic value. The seed contains a range of medically active constituents including xanthines, a fixed oil and endorphins
It is a bitter, stimulant, diuretic herb that stimulates the nervous system, lowers blood pressure and dilates the coronary arteries Cacao powder and butter are nutritive, the latter also soothes and softens damaged skin.
The seed is used in central America and the Caribbean as a heart and kidney tonic An infusion of the baked seed-membranes is drunk as a remedy for anaemia Combined with the stems of Chromolaena odorata and the wood of Cecropia obtusa, the seed is applied externally as an emollient in a remedy to extract splinters or prickles embedded in the skin
Cacao powder is taken internally in the treatment of angina and high blood pressure
The rural people in Amazonas State, Brazil, rub cocoa butter on bruises. It is often used to treat chapped skin and burns.
Research has shown that it can help to counter the bacteria responsible for boils and septicaemia. The leaf contains genistic acid. This has been shown to be antirheumatic and analgesic
An infusion of the leaf buds is used with incense to treat diarrhoea
An infusion of the dry pods is used to decrease leprosy spots
The tree is often interplanted with bananas, coconuts and rubber.
The cacao tree provides a wide range of commodities for local peoples including fibre for cloth, thread and paper; wood for construction, making implements etc; coverings for their houses and many other items.The ash from pod husks contains potassium oxide, which can be extracted in the form of potassium hydroxide, a useful alkaline in the saponification process.The burnt husks can be pounded and made into a paste that has a soapy residue and can be used for washing clothes.Cocoa-bean fat from unfermented cocoa beans can be extracted and used in soap making.
Cacao butter, obtained from the seeds, is used in skin creams, cosmetics and as a suppository base.The wood is light, soft and of low durability Of little value, it is sometimes used for fuel or to make charcoal.The cocoa bean testa is used for fuel. It has a calorific value of 16 000-19 000 BTU/kg, a little higher than that for wood.