Theobroma gileri (Sterculiaceae)
English: mountain cocoa
Spanish: cacao de monte, chocolate de mon
Origin and Distribution
western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. Rarely cultivated.
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.
(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
Mountain cocoa is used for
the edible pulp and the seeds can be used to make chocolate. e