Chocolate tree

Chocolate tree

Chocolate tree

Specification & Spread

Cocoa seeds — semina cacao
Cocoa oil – oleum (butyrum) cacao
Chocolate tree — theobroma cacao l.
Chocolate family — sterculiaceae.

It is an evergreen tropical tree with a height of 10-15 m tall.
The leaves are large, oblong or broadly elliptic with an acuminate tip, entire.
The flowers are small, pink, arranged in bunches directly on the stock and thick branches. This phenomenon of caulifloria is also found in other plants of the tropical forest and is a biological adaptation to butterfly pollination. Butterflies fly low and are unable to climb to the tops of the trees. However, not all flowers are pollinated, and the tree produces only 20-50 fruits. The fruits are oblong or obovate, with an elongated tip, large, on average 15-25 cm long and 10-12 cm thick, juicy, with 10 rounded broad ribs, smooth or hilly, yellow, yellow-red (striped), red or orange, with dense, thick leathery skin.

The seeds in five nests are arranged in 5 rows, it is tightly pressed to each other and surrounded by pink sour-sweet pulp; the number of seeds in the fruit is 50-60 pieces.

Naturally it grows in the undergrowth of tropical forests of South America, in the basin of the Orinoco and Amazon. Due to the huge need for seeds from the XII century. The chocolate tree began to be cultivated, first in South America, especially in Brazil. The chocolate tree largest areas of spreading is in tropical West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and other countries around the Gulf of Guinea), it is also cultivated in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Trees begin to bear fruit on the 3-4th year of life, but the greatest harvest is collected on the 8-10th year.


The seeds contain

  • purine alkaloids: theobromine (1-2%), caffeine traces;
  • fatty oil (45-55%).
  • cyanidin glycosides,
  • tannins,
  • organic acids and
  • traces of choline.

Cocoa oil contains:

  • triglycerides,
  • acids,
  • lauric,
  • palmitic (up to 25%),
  • stearin (up to 34%),
  • arachnid (traces)
  • oleic (up to 43%),
  • linoleic (2%).

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

The tree blooms and bears fruit throughout the year.
The mature fruits are cut from the stalks possible farther from the stem, since new flowers usually arise in the immediate vicinity of the remnants of old stalks.
The fruit is opened in a circular incision in its lower third. At the same time, the rod with all the rows of seeds adjacent to it and a layer of edible pulp mucous is easily and completely removed.

The seeds are free from pulp. One tree gives 1-4 kg of seeds per year. The seeds are piled up in heaps or tanks for fermentation, as a result of which the seed core becomes purple-brown in color, delicate sweet-buttery taste and delicate aroma. After fermentation, the seeds are slowly dried.

The fresh and quickly dried seeds are whitish, tart bitter taste, odorless. The finished seeds are oval-flattened, 2-2.5 cm long, covered with a dark brown thin fragile woody shell.
Under the shell is the remainder of the endosperm in the form of a thin film, penetrating between the folds of fleshy cotyledons.

The seeds are roasted, after which the fragile shell is easily removed by a peeling machine. The shell is 10-15% by weight of the seed, called cocoa-shell and is used to obtain theobromine alkaloid (0.5-1%). The shelled seeds contain 45-55% fatty oil, proteins, 1-2% theobromine. It is ground between rolls and hot pressed to obtain cocoa butter. The hot oil is filtered in heated filters and poured into molds, where it quickly solidifies at room temperature.

Cocoa oil is a piece of light yellow colour (when rancid it turns white) with a pleasant odour; it melts at a temperature of 30-34 °C, i.e. slightly lower than the temperature of the human body, which is the basis of its application  in medicine. The remaining nonfat meal is ground and used in the food industry as cocoa powder for making beverages. For making chocolate, depending on the variety, more or less cocoa butter, sugar, sometimes milk, vanilla and other ingredients are added to the cocoa powder.

Properties and application

Theobromine has:

  • stimulating effect on heart activity
  • dilates bronchi, cerebral and coronary vessels of the heart.

The diuretic effect is due to a decrease in tubular reabsorption of water, sodium ions and chlorine.
It has a weak stimulating effect on the central nervous system.

Application of cocoa

Theobromine is used for

  • mild spasms of cerebral vessels,
  • swelling due to heart and kidney failure.

Combination of preparations are prescribed for:

  • bronchospasm,
  • cardiovascular diseases.

Cocoa oil as a suppository base has been used in medicine since 1710; it is included in all pharmacopoeias.

Insomnia, it can not be combined with anticoagulants (acetylsalicylic acid, sweet clover).