With the onset of February comes the preparation for Valentine’s day. When we think of this day a few things come to mind, the colour red, roses and chocolates! While nothing says I love you like a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates they both don’t last long (well not in our North Queensland homes). So why not celebrate love with something a little more lasting? Like your very own chocolate tree!
Introducing Theobroma Cacao or more commonly known as the Cacao Tree or Chocolate Tree. With it’s scientific name translating to ‘the food of the Gods’ in Latin, it is the source of one of the worlds most favourite foods… chocolate! A small evergreen tree, growing to 4-8 meters it is in the Malvaceae family, it is native to the tropical regions of the Americas but also grows wonderfully in sub-tropical and tropical North Queensland.
Five fast facts about this tree. (source)
- It takes about five years for the tree to fruit, which are commonly referred to as a cocoa pod. 15-25 cm in length this egg shaped red to brown berry contains about 30 to 50 seeds/cacao beans.
- Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are the two main components from the beans that go into making the chocolate we enjoy today.
- The cacao tree has about 20 relatives that fall under the Theobroma genus of trees that do not produce cacao beans but they do flower and produce fruits used for medicinal purposes. In some cases, such as the mocambo, the seeds are edible.
- The cacao tree will usually live to see its 100th birthday but only produces fruit for about half of its lifetime.
- Theobromine is an organic compound found in cacao that has behavioral effects similar to caffeine and is also found in tea and cola
While money doesn’t grow on trees chocolate definitely does! Buy your loved one a chocolate plant this year and watch your love grow (literally) in the form of one of the worlds most treasured trees.
Theobroma plants available in store from $22.95