Herrania umbratica
(Sterculiaceae)
 

Common Names 

English: wild Colombian cocoa

Spanish: cacao silvestre colombiano

 

Origin and Distribution 

Native to Colombia. Rarely cultivated.   

 

Botanical Synonyms

None known. 

 

Description

Small to medium sized tree, reaching about 16 feet (5 m) tall. The leaves are palmately compound with seven leaflets.  Flowers are produced in groups in cushions on the trunk, globose and yellowish when in bud and when opening with five fleshy purple petals with extending ligules. Fruits are 4-6 inches (11-15 cm) in length and 1.5-2 inches (4-5 cm) in diameter, with prominent subequal ribs, hairy, green when immature and yellow when ripe.  It contains between 10-40 seeds, surrounded by a whitish, sweet pulp. The cotyledons are white.

 

  Herrania umbratica fruits and flower

Wild Colombian cocoa fruits, flower buds and open flower

 

Propagation and Culture

Propagation is by seeds, airlayers, cuttings or grafts. Seedlings should be grown under 50% shade. Wild Colombian cocoa is adapted to a humid tropical climate, and grows best in fertile, well drained soils. Trees grow best with light shade, but will grow well in full sun with adequate soil moisture. In its natural habitat, wild Colombian cocoa is found growing as a rainforest understory tree. Wild Colombian cocoa is self-compatible and sets fruit without cross pollination.

 

Cultivars and Related Species

There are approximately 17 species of Herrania.

 

Uses

Wild Colombian cocoa is used for the edible pulp and the seeds can be used to make chocolate.

 

Herrania umbratica fruit and seeds The fruit and seeds of wild Colombian cocoa

 

 

 

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