July 8, 2020
Definition: A small evergreen tree in the Malvaceae family whose trunk sprouts elongated pods. The pods of a cacao tree contain beans and turn yellowish-green to brown once they’ve reached maturation. Cacao is most commonly used to make cocoa.
Cacao vs. Cocoa
While the words cacao and cocoa are often used interchangeably, the term cocoa technically refers to cacao that has been processed and refined to a powder. Cacao, however, is the pure form of chocolate; raw and unprocessed.
Where does cacao grow?
Cacao can offer Forest Garden farmers another way to optimize their land. In Forest Gardens, cacao is grown in the understory and is often combined with the production of fruits and vegetables for multiple harvests. Learn more about the understory and how you can optimize it in Chapter 15 of the Technical Manual.
Did you know?
Cacao trees can live to be over 200 years old. However, cacao trees only produce beans for a fraction of their lifespan.
A Cacao tree starts producing pods at around five-years-old and will continue producing pods for about 25 years. Inside these pods live several cacao beans; a key ingredient needed to produce chocolate.