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Theobroma cacao fruit
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Byttnerioideae
Tribe: Theobromateae
Genus: Theobroma
Type species
Theobroma cacao

See text


Cacao Mill.
Tribroma O.F.Cook[1]

Theobroma is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae, that is sometimes classified as a member of Sterculiaceae. It contains roughly 20 species of small understory trees native to the tropical forests of Central and South America. The generic name is derived from the Greek words θεός (theos), meaning "god," and βρῶμα (broma), meaning "food".[2] It translates to "food of the gods."

Theobroma cacao, the best known species of the genus, is used for making chocolate. Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum) and Mocambo (Theobroma bicolor) are also of some economic importance.

Selected species[edit]

Formerly placed here[edit]

From left to right: T. grandiflorum, T. bicolor, T. speciosum, T. cacao


Several species of Theobroma produce edible seeds, notably cacao, cupuaçu, and mocambo. Cacao is commercially valued as the source of cocoa and chocolate.

Theobroma species are used as food plants by the larvae of some moths of the genus Endoclita, including E. chalybeatus, E. damor, E. hosei and E. sericeus. The larvae of another moth, Hypercompe muzina, feed exclusively on Theobroma cacao.

An active ingredient of cacao, theobromine, is named for the genus.


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Theobroma L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-06-05. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
  2. ^ Perseus Greek Dictionary
  3. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Theobroma". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-12-09.

External links[edit]