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Theobroma glaucum - H.Karst.

Common Name
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats The lower tree storey of evergreen rainforests[636 ]. Found from the lower level of the great rivers up to elevations of 450 metres in forested hills[636 ].
Range Northern S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade
Theobroma glaucum

Theobroma glaucum


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Theobroma glaucum is an evergreen tree growing up to 15 m in height and 30 cm in bole diameter. It is commonly found in northern part of South America particularly in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The seeds are a source of cacao and also contain oil, starch, and protein. The fruit pulp can be made into a drink. Medicinally, it can be used as an emollient, and for angina, high blood pressure, chapped skin and burns, and bruises. Seed oil is also used for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Theobroma glaucum is an evergreen Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects, Wind.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Theobroma calodesmis Diels

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink  Oil

The seeds are a source of a cacao that is said to be of good quality[46 , 636 ]. The seeds of species in this genus are generally a rich source of oil (around 50%), starch (around 15%) and protein (around 15%)[636 ]. They also contain a volatile oil and the stimulating alkaloids caffeine and theobromine[636 ]. Fruit - raw. The pulp is sucked out of the fruit, or it is used to make a refreshing drink[636 ]. The pale orange pulp has a very sweet flavour[636 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Cardiac  Emollient  Hypotensive  Skin

Although no specific reports of medicinal use have been seen for this plant, the seed is a source of cacao powder and butter. These products have the following medicinal uses:- Cacao powder and butter, which are obtained from the seed, are nutritive[238 ]. The butter is also applied externally as an emollient[238 ]. Cacao powder is taken internally in the treatment of angina and high blood pressure[238 ]. Cacao butter is an excellent emollient, being applied to the skin to soothe and soften it[238 ]. It is used traditionally to treat chapped skin and burns, and is also rubbed into bruises[238 ]. Research has shown that it can help to counter the bacteria responsible for boils and septicaemia[254 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Oil

Other Uses: An oil, known as cacao butter, which is solid at room temperature, is obtained from the seed. In addition to being used locally as a food and medicine, cacao butter is important in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries[636 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the hot, moist, lowland tropics[636 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, tolerating 16 - 40°c[636 ]. It requires a mean annual rainfall within the range 2,000 - 8,000mm, evenly distributed throughout the year[636 ]. Grows best in the dappled shade of other trees[420 ]. Prefers a relatively rich, circumneutral soil[636 ]. The plant is not drought tolerant, being unable to withstand even short dry seasons without the protection of dense shade and local humidity[636 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a very short viability, requiring high humidity and optimum temperatures to remain viable. There is no dormancy, the seed often germinating whilst still inside the pod[636 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, South America,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Theobroma cacaoCacao, Cocoa TreeTree8.0 10-12 MMHFSNM533
Theobroma grandiflorumCupuassu, CupuacuTree10.0 10-12 MMHSM433

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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