Cacao, Chocolate Tree - Theobroma cacao - Growables
Origin of this tropical understory tree in the family of the Sterculiaceae are the Amazon Headwaters from where it moved to Central America. Cocoa cultivation began by Mayan tribes in Central America, ca. 1500 BC.
There are two distinct types of cocoa, Criollo types (cacao dulce) that developed north of the Panama isthmus, and Forastero (cacao amargo) which originated in the Amazon basin. Criollo types were cultivated by the indigenous people of Central and South America and were the type Europeans were first exposed to. Commercial production commenced in Brazil using the Forastero types, mainly a uniform type called Amelonado. Both types were distributed throughout the Caribbean, where they hybridized in Trinidad, creating a distinct hybrid called Trinitario. Spanish explorers took cocoa to the Philippines, where it spread throughout southeast Asia, India, and Ceylon. Amelonado cocoa was taken to West Africa. 1