Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theobroma cacao pod, from which cocoa beans are harvested
Scientific classification Edit this classification
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.[2]

The seeds of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), the best known species of the genus, are used for making chocolate. Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), mocambo (Theobroma bicolor) and capacui (Theobroma speciosum) are also of economic importance.


The generic name is derived from the Greek words θεός theos meaning "god"[3] and βρῶμα broma meaning "food"[4] translating to "food of the gods".[5]


Species of the genus according to Plants of the World Online As of February 2023:[6]

Image Scientific name Distribution
Theobroma angustifolium DC. Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panamá
Theobroma bernoullii Pittier Panama.
Theobroma bicolor Bonpl. – mocambo Brazil North, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela
Theobroma cacao L. – cacao Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Theobroma canumanense Pires & Fróes ex Cuatrec. Brazil
Theobroma cirmolinae Cuatrec. Colombia
Theobroma gileri Cuatrec. Colombia, Ecuador
Theobroma glaucum H.Karst. Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Theobroma grandiflorum (Willd. ex Spreng.) K.Schum. – cupuaçu Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela
Theobroma hylaeum Cuatrec. Colombia, Panamá
Theobroma mammosum Cuatrec. & J.León Costa Rica, Nicaragua
Theobroma microcarpum Mart. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela
Theobroma nemorale Cuatrec. Colombia
Theobroma obovatum Klotzsch ex Bernoulli Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela
Theobroma simiarum Donn.Sm. Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panamá
Theobroma sinuosum Pav. ex Huber Brazil, Peru
Theobroma speciosum Willd. ex Spreng. – cacaui Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela
Theobroma subincanum Mart. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela
Theobroma sylvestre Aubl. ex Mart. Brazil.
Theobroma velutinum Benoist Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname

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.[8]

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. 5 Jun 2003. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  2. ^ Genovese, Maria Inés; Barros, Helena Rudge de Moraes (2017), Mérillon, Jean-Michel; Ramawat, K.G. (eds.), "Theobroma cacao and Theobroma grandiflorum: Bioactive Compounds and Associated Health Benefits", Bioactive Molecules in Food, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 1–22, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-54528-8_15-1, ISBN 978-3-319-54528-8, retrieved 2023-03-21
  3. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "θεός". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  4. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "ἀ". A Greek-English Lexicon. Perseus Digital Library.
  5. ^ "Theobroma - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". www.sciencedirect.com. Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  6. ^ "Theobroma L. - Plants of the World Online". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  7. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Theobroma". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Cupuassu, Theobroma grandiflorum". www.growables.org. Retrieved 2023-03-21.

External links[edit]