Facts on the Cacao Tree


The cacao tree is commonly known as the chocolate tree. Its scientific name is Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the gods." The branches and trunk of the cacao tree is covered with the flowers and fruit of the tree.


The cacao tree originates from the Amazon region in South America. It now grows around the world in areas near the equator.


Cacao trees are considered understory trees that need protection from the sun and wind granted by a taller tree.


The Olmec civilization used the cacao tree to make chocolate around 1500 to 500 BC.


Midges are the main pollinator of the cacao tree. The tree repays these insects by producing cherelles, which are tiny pods that the insects use as homes.


Cacao trees are commonly affected by Crinipellis perniciosa, a fungus that causes witches' broom disease, and Moniliophthora roreri, which causes frosty pod rot.


  • University of Wisconsin System Bioweb
Keywords: cacao tree, chocolate tree, Theobroma cacao

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.