Talk:Theobroma cacao

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Health Benefits[edit]

Any information on health benifits? Raw versus processed?

Cacao cultivation and production[edit]

The cacao article badly needs more text on the production and cultivation of cacao. I have added today a paragraph on the expansion and smallholder nature of cacao production and I'd be happy to write a few more paragraphs, but have not much experience and would appreciate advice on how to best proceed. I am a cacao research scientist, have lived in cacao producing countries many years, and think I know cacao pretty well Kamayav (talk) 21:10, 17 April 2008 (UTC).

The beginning of this section reads: "Cacao is cultivated on over 70,000 km² (27,000 mi²) worldwide." Can someone please provide a source? I don't find any reference to the global cacao area in the FAO statistics quoted. Also, I'd encourage the use of ha (hectares) which is the conventionally used unit for agricultural areas, so the 70,000 km² would be equivalent to 7,000,000 ha. I find it also unusual to use square miles. Shouldn't we use the metric system only? Kamayav (talk) 21:36, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

In the article they mention that unlike many other plants, the Theobroma cacao is pollinated by tiny flies (Forcipomyia midges) and not bees. This might be common knowledge but does that mean the plant cannot be pollinated by bees and it has to be done by these tiny flies? When I tried opening the source to the page, it opened up to one in spanish, so I couldn't go through it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Henchang (talkcontribs) 22:52, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

At the end of the section they mention the 3 different forms chocolate appears in. It is said that those 3 forms differ in taste, aroma, etc. but it would be nice to see more information about what is different between those 3 groups (i.e. why one is more expensive than the other). Henchang (talk) 23:31, 19 March 2017 (UTC)


Hey, I think I just found a bug. There is a difference in articles on Cacao and Cocoa, although it should be the same thing. Well in fact if you search the article in English on Cocoa and then shift to the Spanish version of the same article, AND then click on English (to change the language, or to go to the English version of the article), you reach this page. Isn't that wrong..? I am confused... V.

In terms of English, the cacao researchers accept that cacao is the plant as whole and cocoa is beans or the product that is eaten. spanishcarav 6 March 2008, Penn State University Dept. Plant Pathology. —Preceding comment was added at 01:56, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Vaiyach (talkcontribs) 05:17, 12 January 2007 (UTC). Anyone know how much a "load" was? "At one point the Aztec empire received a yearly tribute of 980 loads of cacao, in addition to other goods." --Smilingman 04:24, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

I am looking for a nutritional analysis of cacao, including a fatty acid profile. Can anyone assist?

There's lots of information, and lots of offline references, at the Cocoapro and the Chocolate Information Center websites. Haven't found a table of exactly what you seem to be asking, but it may be hidden in there somewhere. (Both sites are supported by the Mars Co.. -- Kbh3rd 1 July 2005 17:27 (UTC)


I think most of these doubts are now covered in the text JeremyCherfas (talk) 10:57, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

This Cacao article states as follows, "The tree grows naturally in the low foothills of the Andes at elevations of around 200-400 m in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins; it is believed to have been introduced to Central America by the Maya people."

Where does this claim come from? That the Mayas introduced cacao to Central America?

Is there a possibility that cacao was also native to Central America, thousands of years previous to the Mayan empire. (unsigned)

Yes. Either that, or the Mayas and others imported seeds thru trade to grow their own. The only wild plants found today are in South America, but that may be because the range has shrunk, perhaps partly through cultivation of cacao in Mexico on the same land where it may have grown wild long ago.Tmangray 02:46, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Genetic studies by Motamayor, et. al seem to point to a lowland amazonia domestication and distribution. They found the genetic differences in the lacandon "wild" variants to be too tight, and too close to all known cultivars, and concluded they're probably domesticates that have gone "wild". Their work is in response to an article by A. Gomez Pompa arguing a Lacandon area domestication, and that wild cacao was native to the area from southestern mexico to amazonia. Rsheptak 21:01, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I forgot to add it was introduced to the maya by people from central america. The earliest traces of cacao usage are in 1100 B.C. pottery from the non-maya part of Honduras, with the earliest maya traces from Belize, in 600-400 B.C. Rsheptak 21:03, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Cocoa bean is a fruit!

No, the pod is the fruit, the cocoa bean is the seed of the fruit. Rsheptak 22:38, 26 June 2007 (UTC)


This reads "Their most important active constituent is Theobromine, a compound somewhat similar to Caffeine." and the Theobromine article states that they are very different. Who is right? --Fs 11:54, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

got to add, the caffeine article says that caffeine is metabolized to theobromine and if that's true, it can't make their discussion too separate. --Fs 11:57, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Theobromine is structurally similar to caffeine. Together theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine constitute the methylxanthine alkaloids we know and love in such diverse stimulating plants as Coffee, Yerba Mate, Tea, Kola nut, and Guarana. Indeed the only difference between Theobromine and Caffeine in that sense is ONE carbon atom. Changing one atom on a drug can significantly alter its effects though.. so while they are quite similar chemically, they are quite different pharmacologically. Joharri

yeah, not so sure that the cocoa bean is a fruit. yeah.

Origin answer[edit]

T. Cacao is definitely native to S. America, and migrated north via domestication and trade. However, saying that the Maya introduced it is incorrect, as there is definitive proof (archaeological and otherwise) that it was present at least as early as the Olmec period in the middle cone region. The very name Cacao, in fact, comes from the Mixe-Zoquean language group, predating the Maya.

I've made some changes to the page to reflect these bits...For reference, see the Coe & Coe book "The True History of Chocolate".
[—Seneca 14:21, 6 April 2006 (UTC)—taken from the page history since Seneca didn't bother signing this :-p ☸ Moilleadóir 07:56, 7 August 2006 (UTC) ]

Cacao is definitely native to South America, but it is not clear whether it once had a larger range, extending into Central America and Mexico. The same places where it was cultivated by the Mayas, Aztecs, and others were probably the same places where the wild varieties had grown originally. Some of these areas are where it is still grown today. Tmangray 03:01, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
I have to say I find this hard to believe since it seems very little is known about Olmec language. Whatever the ultimate origin of the word may be, the immediate source for European languages is still probably the Náhuatl word cacahuatl.
Moilleadóir 07:56, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
OK, after quite a lot of reading cacahuatl sounds too simplistic as well. Cacahu appears to be a borrowing from Mayan *kakaw and may well be a borrowing from possible Mixe-Zoquean *kakawa and the Olmecs may or may not have spoken a Mixe-Zoquean language.
After reading the competing theories about the derivation of chocolate (xoco/xocol/xocolli "bitter" or chicol-li "beating stick" + atl "water") I'm beginning to think we need a separate article "Etymologies of chocolate related words"!
Moilleadóir 10:43, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
The word cacao was acquired by the Spanish from the Aztecs, not the Mayas, Mixe-Zoqueans, Olmecs, or anybody else. This is on the authority of the Royal Spanish Academy's online dictionary (, and from the eyewitness account of Bernal Diaz, chronicler-participant of Cortez' conquest. Sure, the word itself probably ULTIMATELY came to the Aztecs from older languages, but that's a different point, and mostly pure speculation. BTW, the Olmec language is totally unknown. Tmangray 02:52, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Except that, the point of etymological investigations is to ascertain the "ultimate" origins of a word as far as is possible, so it is entirely relevant to mention Mayan, Mixe-Zoquean etc antecedants, and not to simply delete cited material and replace with what is but one version. Despite the characterisation as "Maya lovefest revisionism" and "pure speculation", that account (while not the only explanation) is one which has been described as "Perhaps the most widely accepted etymology for cacao", even by proponents for Uto-Aztecan origins (cf. Dakin and Wichmann, 2000 [1]).
The Royal Spanish Academy is surely a respectable source, but then so are the many linguists and Mesoamerican researchers who have written at length on the topic. In fact, this particular etymology has been quite a controversial topic in the field, and has significance as providing at least some clues to the languages spoken anciently in the Gulf Coast and Teotihuacan, and insight into the trading and other pre-Columbian intercultural relations.
It's all more deserving of a fuller treatment, if not here then somewhere else, as far as cacao's importance to Mesoamerican cultures is concerned. Admittedly the previous version before your edits did not give the full picture and all of the versions, but your deletion and replacement will not do either. If the etymology is to be mentioned at all the article needs to provide a survey of the different explanations, and the inferences which have been drawn from them.--cjllw | TALK 08:46, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
That may all be good, but the most authoritative source for the immediate origin of Spanish words is in fact the Spanish Royal Academy, in this case, backed up by a contemporary eyewitness. Recall also that the Spanish did not even delve into Maya culture until AFTER they had overthrown the Aztec state.
The text as entered misstated the facts. The word entered Spanish from Nahuatl, not Mayan. That must be stated explicitly. If the ultimate origin of the Nahuatl word has been traced back further, then that can also be said, but not as it was. Tmangray 16:35, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Active chemicals[edit]

In response to the Theobromine question, there are some concrete differences between Theobromine and Caffeine, but they are part of the same family of stimulants and behave similarly. However, Theobromine is not by any means the most interesting or dominant stimulant in cacao--Phenylethylamine (PEA) and Psuedo-Anadamides are present in greater quantities, and both have more interesting pshcyoactive properties.
[—Seneca 14:10, 6 April 2006—from page history ☸ Moilleadóir 08:00, 7 August 2006 (UTC) ]

There are also the catechins and flavanoids. And probably a bunch of other stuff yet to be discovered.Tmangray 02:54, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

ActualLY, apparently phenylethylamine is present in only trace amounts.

I've compiled an archive of the more obscure chemicals found in cacao (the ones other than caffeine and theobromine): DOWNLOAD — Preceding unsigned comment added by PA991 (talkcontribs) 08:10, 30 March 2014 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was page moved.  Skomorokh  10:28, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

CacaoTheobroma cacao — The tree (unto which this article is dedicated) is named Theobroma cacao, not cacao (this is also a name for the matter found in the fruit of the tree. KVDP (talk) 10:34, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Oppose Cocoa is the product; cacao the tree. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:58, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually "cacao" is the initial product, the fermented (and roasted?) bean. Cocoa is processed product of cacao, although "cacao" is often called "cocoa". Guettarda (talk) 00:27, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. There are three distinct topics; the plant, the product, and the drink. There's a similar situation with tea; our articles on that issue are respectively Camellia sinensis, Tea, and Tea culture. Apart from the last one (where I think the article in this case can stay at Hot chocolate), I think that solution would work here, too. "Cocoa" is the more common English word for the product, so (per WP:EN) it's the name we should use for the product's article. I agree with the OP that the plant should be at Theobroma cacao. As "Cacao" refers to the product rather than the tree (which would be "cacao tree" or "cacao plant"), I would support Cacao being changed to a redirect to Cocoa. [NB - this is a duplicate of my opinion on Cocoa.] Tevildo (talk) 22:02, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose WP:COMMONNAME of the plant is "cacao" (and not "cocoa") (talk) 05:05, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
    • Comment. The common name of the plant is "cacao tree". I would not object to a move to Cacao tree (although I still think the binomial is preferable), but "Cacao" on its own is the Spanish name for the product. Tevildo (talk) 17:38, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
      • I would accept Cacao tree. Spanish names are titles for the Spanish wikipedia, not for us - except when English has borrowed them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:49, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. I am in favor of making Cacao a disambiguation page. The dab page would link to the cacao tree, cocoa, cocoa butter, and creme de cacao, among other topics. The word "cacao" is also slang in some parts of the world, meaning "shit". --Una Smith (talk) 16:16, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Article needs a section on toxicity. Some sources:

  • See:
  • See:
  • Book: Poison with a Capital C, Agatha M Thrash MD, 2000, 61pp, American Vegan Society
  • Book: Sugar Blues by William Dufty (Mass Paperback), Section on Cacao.
  • Book: Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug by Stephen Snehan Cherniske
  • Book: The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner
  • Book: Welcome to the Dance: Caffeine Allergy - A Masked Cerebral Allergy and Progressive Toxic Dementia, Trafford Publishing, 2005

Zanze123 (talk) 22:07, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

End of first paragraph of Taxonomy and Nomenclature says "Both were in the ancient system into the family Sterculiaceae."

What does this sentence mean? I don't consider any modern taxonomic names to be "ancient" considering that the accepted starting point of botanical classification is 1753, with Linneaus' Species Plantarum. Does the author mean both were originally considered part of Sterculiaceae?

Taxonomy and Nomenclature question[edit]

End of first paragraph of Taxonomy and Nomenclature says "Both were in the ancient system into the family Sterculiaceae."

What does this sentence mean? I don't consider any modern taxonomic names to be "ancient" considering that the accepted starting point of botanical classification is 1753, with Linneaus' Species Plantarum. Does the author mean both were originally considered part of Sterculiaceae? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:48, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

overview of unique, potentially psychoactive chemicals found in cacao[edit]

Cacao is gaining popularity in this respect. I've compiled as much primary research in this areas as possible into this article. Enjoy it.

Merge from Cocoa bean[edit]

Firstly, I'm not sure merging is the right course of action, but I think the current division between these two articles is a problem. Which is to say, there's no clear logic between the division. I spent a bunch of time reading Cocoa bean only to discover the information (for instance, on varieties) in this Theobroma cacao article was not just different but much better. Should both articles include information on where and how Theobroma cacao is grown, how it is harvested, etc? Should both articles include information on how the beans are dried? Should both include history of cocoa consumption? Conservation and environmental issues? The list goes on. If we can't find any logical way to divide one from the other (and make that clear in the articles) then we should merge them into a single article. I'm fine with either solution. - Themightyquill (talk) 19:30, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

(correct me if I am wrong on how to reply) If that is the case, should both articles be changed in a more suitable way? The Theobroma cacao article is talking about the variety, production etc. while the Cocoa bean is talking about the bean itself,but then also talking about the production and varietys etc. could it be refined enough so it cant have exactly the same information? obviously this will mean less information (depending on what part of the article) but then they will be more refined to what the article is talking about. Although this may be complicated, maybe merging it is a good idea?Thierry05 (talk) 00:00, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Strongly oppose. The Cocoa bean article is about the seed of the tree Theobroma cacao, which also has its own article, just as the Coffee bean is the seed of the plant Coffea and a Walnut is the nut of the tree Juglans. Many more examples of seed/bean/fruit vs plant/tree articles on Wikipedia. In cases where there is a food or medicinal product produced, they should be kept separate; otherwise, the articles would be too long. I suggest comparing how the others articles have handled the problem of information duplication before making major edits to the cocoa articles. 5Q5 (talk) 13:52, 1 November 2015 (UTC)
Strongly oppose. The two articles are about different things. It is okay for articles to have some overlap. Merging articles is not the correct solution to solve difficulties in division between two topics. It would be much better to address the actual problem rather than simply avoiding it by merging.
There are plenty of precedents for separate articles in such situations, including those examples given by User:5Q5.
I'm going to remove the merge tag as even User:Themightyquill, who raised the issue, is "not sure merging is the right course of action" and everyone else is opposed.
-HiMyNameIsFrancesca (talk) 23:57, 12 July 2016 (UTC)


Something is wrong with statistics. Argentina, far from being the tenth producer, does not produce just a single pound of cacao. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:21, 20 June 2016 (UTC)

Incorrect image[edit]

The painting under 'Cultivation' shows NOT a cacao tree, but a papaya plant (a large herb). This picture needs to be removed (but I don't know how to do that). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Scarabaeoid (talkcontribs) 02:33, 4 June 2017 (UTC)

 Done, thanks Scarabaeoid. I just removed [[File:MulatoAE.jpg|thumb|left|[[Mestiço]] man with gun and sword under a fruiting cacao tree. [[Albert Eckhout]], mid 17th c. [[Dutch Brazil]]]] from the Mythology section. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 04:23, 4 June 2017 (UTC)