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Useful Tropical Plants

Theobroma speciosum

Willd. ex Spreng.

Malvaceae

+ Synonyms

Sapokaia brasiliensis Rich. ex Chev.

Theobroma quinquenervia Bernoulli

Common Name: Cacaui

Theobroma speciosum
The flowers are produced along the trunk and branches
Photograph by: J. Solomon
Creative Commons License

General Information

Cacaui is an evergreen tree with a narrow and sparse crown; it can grow 8 - 14 metres tall[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
,
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The bole is about 20cm in diameter[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The edible fruits and seeds are gathered from the wild and used locally. The plant is also sometimes grown in domestic gardens[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. An easily grown plant, it is also exceedingly beautiful when in bloom[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.

Range

S. America - Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador.

Habitat

Understorey in rainforests, in areas that do not get inundated[
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
,
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
,
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The lower tree storey of evergreen rainforests[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It is also sometimes found in secondary growth near towns[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height12.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsInsects, ?Wind
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the hot, moist, lowland tropics[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, tolerating 16 - 40°c[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It requires a mean annual rainfall within the range 2,000 - 8,000mm, evenly distributed throughout the year[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Grows best in the dappled shade of other trees[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Prefers a relatively rich, circumneutral soil[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant is not drought tolerant, being unable to withstand even short dry seasons without the protection of dense shade and local humidity[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Freshly planted young trees grow away quite slowly, barely reaching 1.5 metres tall after 2 years[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
,
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. A thin, succulent, fibrous pulp with a slightly sweet flavour[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. The fruit is also used to make juices, ice cream etc[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
]. The fruit is about 10cm long and 8cm wide, containing about 20 seeds each surrounded by the sweet pulp[
416
Title
Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.; Bacher. L.; Lacerda. M.; Sartori. S.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora LTDA; Brazil.
Year
2000
ISBN
85-867174-24-0
Description
A superb book, giving information on several hundred fruit species. Each entry has a brief description of the plant and its uses, accompanied by one to many excellent quality photographs of the fruits.
].

The seeds are only occasionally used[
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
]. They give a chocolate of lower quality than Theobroma cacao[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
377
Title
Trade Winds Fruit
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The on-line catalogue of a company selling seeds. Gives descriptions, photos and uses of a very wide range of fruit and other food-producing plants plus ornamentals.
,
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The chocolate is of excellent quality[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. The seeds of species in this genus are generally a rich source of oil (around 50%), starch (around 15%) and protein (around 15%)[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. They also contain a volatile oil and the stimulating alkaloids caffeine and theobromine[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Medicinal

Although no specific reports of medicinal use have been seen for this plant, the seed is a source of cacao powder and butter. These products have the following medicinal uses:-
Cacao powder and butter, which are obtained from the seed, are nutritive[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The butter is also applied externally as an emollient[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
Cacao powder is taken internally in the treatment of angina and high blood pressure[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].
Cacao butter is an excellent emollient, being applied to the skin to soothe and soften it[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is used traditionally to treat chapped skin and burns, and is also rubbed into bruises[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Research has shown that it can help to counter the bacteria responsible for boils and septicaemia[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

Other Uses

An oil, known as cacao butter, which is solid at room temperature, is obtained from the seed. In addition to being used locally as a food and medicine, cacao butter is important in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

The wood is fine-textured, straight-grained, heavy, soft, with moderate mechanical properties and very subject to rot[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. It is very little used, except for internal rustic constructions[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].
The wood is sometimes used for fuel and charcoal[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

Propagation

Seed - it has a very short viability, requiring high humidity and optimum temperatures to remain viable. There is no dormancy, the seed often germinating whilst still inside the pod[
636
Title
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 35
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution Press; Washington.
Year
1968
ISBN
 
Description
A treatment of the genus Theobroma and a monograph of the Humiriaceae are two of the various articles contained in this issue. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Sow the seed as soon as it is ripe, in a semi-shaded position in individual containers[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Cover with about 15mm of soil. Germination rates of fresh seed is usually low, with sprouting taking place in 15 - 25 days[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
]. Young plants are usually ready for planting out 6 - 7 months later[
420
Title
Brazilian Trees. Volume 2. 4th Edition.
Publication
 
Author
Lorenzi. H.
Publisher
Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora; Brazil.
Year
2002
ISBN
85-86714-15-1
Description
Information on 350 species of Brazilian trees. Stunning photographs of each species, brief details on the plant, its uses and how to grow it from seed. A superb work, with the minor irritation that the translation from Portuguese is not of the best.
].

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