CACAO. This valuable tree, native to the tropical parts of the American continents, produces the seeds from which the world's supply of chocolate - and cocoa is made. It is an evergreen, ever-blooming tree ranging from 20 to 40 feet in height, with a straight branching stem. The leaves are large, oval, and glossy, dark green above and red below. The flowers and fruit grow in a peculiar position, springing in numerous clusters directly from the trunk and older branches. The fruit is a pod about the size of a small cucumber, green at first and purplish-yellow when ripe. It grows on a stem so short that it looks as if it were artificially attached to the tree. The hard leathery rind, about half an inch thick, contains five or eight rows of white or pale purple beans from 29 to 50 altogether —imbedded in a sweet pink pulp. These beans are the raw material of chocolate and cocoa (see Chocolate).
The cacao tree is extensively cultivated in Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Porto Rico, Haiti, San Domingo, Trinidad, Jamaica, Gold Coast of Africa, Portuguese East Africa, and Ceylon. The plants are grown in nurseries and come into bearing when they are about five years old. Scientific name, Theobroma cacao.