Theobroma gileri

Common Names 

English: mountain cocoa

Spanish: cacao de monte, chocolate de mon


Origin and Distribution
Native to western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador.  Rarely cultivated.   


Botanical Synonyms
None known.


Medium sized tree, ranging from 26-46 feet (8-14 m) tall. The leaves are simple and alternate, elliptic lanceolate, 3-5 inches (7.5-13 cm) long and 0.8-1.6 inches (2-4 cm) wide.  Flowers are produced in cushions on the branches and trunk, solitary or in small groups, and have wide sepals which are greenish on the outside and reddish on the inside.  The purple petals form hoods over the anthers. Fruits are ovoid to ellipsoid, 3-4.3 inches (7.5-11 cm) in length and 3-3.5 inches (7.5-9 cm) in diameter, green when immature and yellow when mature, with reticulate veining.  It contains between 20-25 seeds, surrounded by a whitish, sweet pulp.


Propagation and Culture Propagation is by seeds, airlayers, cuttings or grafts.  Seedlings should be grown under 50% shade.  Mountain cocoa may be cleft or patch grafted. Mountain 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, emerald cacao is found growing as a rainforest understory tree. Mountain cocoa is self-compatible and sets fruit without cross pollination.  


Cultivars and Related Species
There are approximately 22 Theobroma species, and about 15 are utilized for their edible pulp or seeds. Theobroma cacao is the most important species. Theobroma grandiflorum (cupuassu), T. angustifolium (emerald cacao), T. bicolor (macambo) and T. subincanum (wild cocoa) are other species utilized for their aromatic, edible pulp and edible seeds.  Theobroma microcarpum, which is found in the Colombian and Brazilian Amazon region, is closely related to T. gileri, but has axillary flowers on young branches, and has a smaller fruit than T. gileri.  


Mountain cocoa is used for the edible pulp and the seeds can be used to make chocolate.  e









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