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An Amazon Adventure
Cocoa (Chocolate)

Theobroma cacoa

It is strange to see flowers or fruit coming out of the trunk of a tree. The cocoa tree of the Amazon basin produces the fruit this way and it is turned into the chocolate that is enjoyed all over the world. The natural tree may grow 12-16 meters (30-50 feet) tall but cultivated trees are much shorter. It produces a dark-green, leathery leaf and has white flowers that grow in bunches.

The fruit is about 8 inches (20 cm) long and contains up to 60 seeds in the white pulp. The pulp is edible. The beans are taken, roasted and fermented before being ground into a paste of bitter chocolate. A bitter beverage made from chocolate and water was used by the Aztecs but it wasn't until it was sweetened with sugar that it became popular with the Europeans.