Theobroma grandiflorum

Common Names 

English: cupuassu

Spanish: cupuas˙, copoas˙, cacao blanco

Portuguese: cupuašu, pupu, pupuašu 


Origin and Distribution 

Eastern Amazonian region of Brazil.


Botanical Synonyms 

Bubroma grandiflorum and Theobroma macrantha.



Medium sized tree, usually 20-30 feet (6-9 m) tall but may reach 60 feet (18 m). Branches are produced in groups of three. The leaves are simple, 10-14 inches (25-35 cm) long, dark green and smooth on the surface and light green or pale pink and pubescent on the underside. Flowers are produced on the branches, singly or in groups of 3-5. Fruits are 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) in length and 4-5 inches (10-13 cm) in diameter, and weigh between 1-9 pounds (0.5-4 kg). The fruit has a hard shell which is brown and rough on the exterior, and contains between 20-50 seeds, surrounded by a cream colored, sour, aromatic pulp.


Nearly mature and young cupuassu (Theobroma grandiflorum) fruits


Propagation and Culture

Propagation is by seeds, cuttings or grafts. Seeds germinate in 10-20 days, but lose viability quickly if they dry out. Seedlings should be grown under 50% shade. Cupuassu may be cleft or patch grafted.

The cupuassu 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, cupuassu is found growing at altitudes up to 1,300 feet (396 m), but has been successfully cultivated at up to 2,000 feet (610 m) elevation.

Growth is rapid, and fruiting occurs 2-3 years from planting. A mature tree can produce more than 40 fruits per year. Cupuassu flowers from June through September, and fruits ripen from December through April. Fruits don't show changes associated with ripening, such as changes in color, and are harvested when they fall to the ground naturally.


Cupuassu (Theobroma grandiflorum) flowers


Cultivars and Related Species

Although variability exists for fruit shape and size, pulp content and acidity, and other characteristics, few cultivars exist. 'Mamau' is a seedless cultivar which has a high pulp yield, but less flavor than seeded types.

 There are approximately 22 Theobroma species, and about 15 are utilized for their edible pulp or seeds. Cocoa, Theobroma cacao, is the most important species. Theobroma gileri (mountain cocoa), T. bicolor (macambo) and T. subincanum (wild cocoa) are other species utilized for their sweet, edible pulp and edible seeds.



Cupuassu pulp is thick, somwhat fibrous, and very aromatic. It is also very acid, with a pH of 3.3. It is eaten fresh, and used in the preparation of drinks, ice cream, baked goods, candies and jams. The seeds contain a white, aromatic fat, similar to that of cocoa, that is used to make a type of white chocolate called cupulate. A portion of 100 g of seeds contains 15 g carbohydrate, 51 g fat and 20 g protein.


Nutritional composition per 100 g cupuassu pulp

Carbohydrate 8 g
Protein  1.2 g
Calcium  40 mg
Phosphorous  310 mg
Vitamin C   4-23 mg


More information on cupuassu

Cupuašu (Theobroma grandiflorum)

Detailed article in the publication "Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective" by the Food and Agriculture Organization.












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