Cocoa Tree Facts


The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) produces cocoa pods, the raw material that becomes chocolate, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Cocoa trees are a tropical tree only and do not perform well outside of a strict geographic range.

Cacao pods hanging from a cocoa tree.
Cacao pods hanging from a cocoa tree. (Image: Sandy Roecken/iStock/Getty Images)


Cocoa trees are native to the Amazon basin and the Andes mountains. Cocoa trees spread from these regions to Central and South America, Mexico and east Africa. The trees thrive in rainforest environments and enjoy a moist setting near the banks of a river. Cocoa trees don't grow more than 20 degrees north or south of the equator, notes the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Cocoa trees are native to the Andes.
Cocoa trees are native to the Andes. (Image: IngaL/iStock/Getty Images)


Cocoa trees range from 13 to 26 feet on average, though some can grow up to 32 feet.

Cocoa trees can grow to 26 feet.
Cocoa trees can grow to 26 feet. (Image: SPrada/iStock/Getty Images)


Cocoa trees come in three main types: Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario. Forastero trees grow primarily in Brazil and West Africa and account for 90 percent of the world's cocoa pods. Criollo trees grow in the Caribbean, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Java, and feature a more delicate flavor. Trinitario trees are rarer and are a cross between the two major types.

Forastero trees grow in Brazil.
Forastero trees grow in Brazil. (Image: mmeee/iStock/Getty Images)


Cocoa pods average 4 to 15 inches in length. Pods grow in four to five months and are green when immature. The pods require an additional month to ripen, at which point they turn red, yellow or purple. The pods are football-shaped and feature grooved sides.

cocoa pods in hawaii.
cocoa pods in hawaii. (Image: joshuaraineyphotography/iStock/Getty Images)


Bats and small insects called midges pollinate cocoa flowers. Flowers die in 24 hours if they are not pollinated, according to All About Chocolate. Cocoa trees flower all year long, even while cocoa pods develop.

Cocoa trees flower all year long.
Cocoa trees flower all year long. (Image: Lee Clower/iStock/Getty Images)

Related Searches


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Facts on Chocolate Mimosa Tree

    Mimosa trees (Albizia julibrissin) produce ferny foliage and sweetly scented blooms, which attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The leaves of chocolate mimosa (Albizia...

  • Information About a Coco Plum Plant

    The coco plum (Chrysobalanus icaco L.) is a dichotomous, perennial shrub found in the coastal regions of Florida. It is grown for...

  • Facts on the Cocoa Plant

    Chocolate lovers can thank the theobroma cacao tree for producing cocoa, the main ingredient in their favorite treat. Stimulants theobromine and caffeine...

Related Searches

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!