Scientific Name: Theobroma Cacao
Botanical Family: Sterculiaceae
Common Name: Cocoa
Theobroma is its scientific name and in Greek means Food of the Gods! The word Cacao is derived from the nahual word “cacahua”.
Our Tree of the Month is known as the Cocoa tree. It is a majestic tree, a cultural symbol since for our native Indian ancestors it represented the birth of life and was even used in our culture as a monetary unit. The Mayans created a bitter drink known as Chocolha, made of cocoa seeds, which was consumed exclusively by kings and nobles, and also used to give solemnity to certain sacred rituals.
Traditionally the tree has been utilized primarily for its fruits and seeds within, which are used in the preparation of the cocoa drink, known as the Drink of the Gods. However it is also widely used for the preparation of sweets, traditional medicine and esthetics. Its ripe and unripe fruits are consumed by a wide variety of birds and mammals such as the squirrel monkey, white faced/capuchin monkeys, squirrels, raccoons, parrots etc which makes it very important ecologically. When the fruits fall from the trees, they are consumed by Agoutis, Pacas Coatis and Peccarys.
In colonial times, the area around Quepos produced large quantities of cocoa which was transported to the central valley over a now disappeared trail known as the Pass of the Indians.