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Theobroma cacao popularily known as the cocoa tree is generally small in size which extends to a height off about 5–10 m .It is an evergreen tree and belongs to the family of Sterculiaceae. They are generally found in the deep tropical region of the Americas. Its seeds are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. The tree is mostly found growing wildly in the lower foothills of the Amazon basin at elevations of around 200–400 m.The leaves are alternate, entirely unlobed and taste unpleasent they act as a poison if consumed. The leaves extend 5 to 15 inches in length and 4–10 inches in breadth. The flowers mostly sprout out in large clusters directly from the trunk and elderly branches. The flowers have a pink calyx and are small in size, around 0.5 to1 inch in diameter. This evergreen tree bears a fruit known as the cocoa pod; this pod contains 20– 50 seeds usually called "beans". A tree begins to bear the fruit when it is four or five years old. A mature tree holds around 5,000 flowers in a year, yet only about 25 pods. usually called "beans".
Botanical Name: Theobroma cacao.
Family Name: Malvaceae.
Common Name: Chocolate, cacao, criollo, cacaoyer, kakao.
Part Used: Cacao pod (Fruit).
Habitat: The Lacandon area of Mexico and in lowland South America, Central America and Mesoamerica originally distributed from southeastern Mexico to the Amazon basin.
Properties of Cacao
- Carminative, detoxifier.
- Laxative, menstrual, vermifuge.
Uses of Cacao
- The cacao bean is used in more than 80% of chocolates.
- Used in most of the agro-industrial plantations at a very large scale.
- Theo bromine when absorbed acts powerfully as a diuretic, and has a stimulant or exciting action which is not possessed by chocolate itself.
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