The Cacao Tree - Facts About Theobroma Cacao

The Cacao Tree is the source of all things chocolate and so much more.

Here are ten interesting tidbits about the cacao tree that you may be interested to learn:

  • The Cacao Tree's botanical name is Theobroma Cacao, which means "food of the gods" in Greek.
  • Cocoa producing regions are all located within 20 degrees of the equator, as the trees require good soil drainage, a humid climate, and regular rainfall.
  • Countries in Western Africa, such as Ivory Coast and Ghana, provide the substantial majority of cocoa production for the world market (70%+).
  • The amount of time it takes for a tree to produce its first fruit is approximately five years.
  • The peak growing period for the average cocoa tree is about 10 years but can extend for several decades.
  • The pollination process of the flowers of the cacao tree is done by flies, not bees.
  • It is the seeds of resulting fruit (the fruit is also known as "pods") that are used in making chocolate.
  • The typical pod contains a few dozen seeds, also known as beans.
  • Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are the two main components from the beans that go into making the chocolate we enjoy today.
  • It takes several hundred processed beans to make up 1 pound of chocolate.
  • This tree loves humid climates and will not grow in arid climates.
  • The leaves of the cacao tree are over six inches long and like all deciduous trees, it loses its leaves annually
  • The cacao tree is native to South America but most production of cacao comes from The African regions of the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
  • The colorful cacao pods take 4-5 months to grow and then several additional weeks to ripen

Given its limited growing region, long lead times, and the increasing demand for chocolate on the world market, each and every cacao tree is critical to our continued enjoyment of this amazing and healthy product.

Information compiled from various sources, including the World Cocoa Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Cocoa Organization.