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Theobroma grandiflorum - (Willd. ex Spreng.) K.Schum.

Common Name Cupuassu, Cupuacu
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforests, usually in areas that do not become inundated[416 ]. The lower tree storey of evergreen rainforests[636 ].
Range S. America - Amazonian Brazil.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade
Theobroma grandiflorum Cupuassu, Cupuacu

Theobroma grandiflorum Cupuassu, Cupuacu
Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada wikimedia.org


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Theobroma grandiflorum, otherwise known as Cupuassu, grows up to 15 m high. It is evergreen with brown bark, elongated or pyramidal crown, and bole that can be up to 30 cm in diameter. It is common is rainforests in South America. The fruits are oblong, brown, and covered with a thick and hard exocarp. The fruit pulp can be eaten raw to made into juice, jams, and desserts. Seeds of this species are used as chocolate substitute. It is rich in oil and a great source of cocoa butter. It can also be used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Medicinally, the plant is used in the treatment of abdominal pains, angina, high blood pressure, chapped skin and burns, and bruises. Plants are usually grown from seeds.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Theobroma grandiflorum is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) 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


Bubroma grandiflora Willd. ex Spreng. Guazuma grandiflora (Spreng.) G.Don Theobroma macrantha Bernou

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Chocolate  Drink  Drink  Oil

The fruit contains a number of large seeds surrounded by a very aromatic, succulent pulp with a slightly acidic flavour[335 , 416 ]. This pulp can be eaten raw and is said to be delicious[317 , 335 ]. Creamy, with an exotic flavour[318 ]. Sweetish and agreeably scented[420 ]. It is also used to make fresh juice, ice cream, jam and tarts[317 , 318 ]. The brown fruit is 12 - 25cm long and 10 - 12cm in diameter, with the pulp occupying about a third of the space within[335 ]. Seed - used as a substitute for chocolate[420 ]. The seeds have a high amount of fat and give a good cocoa butter[317 ]. 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 ].

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  Stimulant  Tonic

The plant (part not specified, but it is almost certainly the fruit or the seed[K ]) is nutritive, stimulant and tonic[318 ]. The seeds are used in the treatment of abdominal pains[318 ]. The juiced fruit is drunk to facilitate difficult births[318 ]. 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

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Furniture  Oil  Wood

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 ]. The wood is of medium texture, straight-grained, moderately heavy and with moderate natural durability[420 ]. It is very little used, but is suitable for cabinet making and internal cladding of buildings[420 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop

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 ]. Requires a position where shade is provided by taller trees[420 ]. Prefers a relatively rich, circumneutral soil[636 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 8.5[418 ]. The plant is not drought tolerant, being unable to withstand even short dry seasons without the protection of dense shade and local humidity[636 ]. Freshly planted young trees usually grow away moderately well[420 ]. A seedless variety of this species exists[416 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

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 ]. Sow the seed as soon as it is ripe, in a semi-shaded position in individual containers[420 ]. Cover with about 15mm of soil. Germination rates of fresh seed is usually high, with sprouting taking place in 20 - 40 days[420 ]. Young plants are usually ready for planting out 5 - 6 months later[420 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cacao blanco, Cocohuasu, Copoasu, Copoazu, Cupu-Assu, Cupuassu, Pupu, copoasu, copoasú, cupuassú, cupuasu, cupuaçú.


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 glaucum Tree12.0 10-12 MMHSM432

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.


Expert comment


(Willd. ex Spreng.) K.Schum.

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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