The botanical name for cacao tree, a tropical evergreen in the family Byttneriaceae. It iCriollo Cabossess native to the Amazon basin, but now grows worldwide in a tropical belt 20 degrees above and below the equator. The genus name, Theobroma, means “food of the gods” in Greek (Theo = god, broma = food). The name was bestowed in 1753 by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linne), who was dissatisfied with the word cacao. The Theobroma gene probably dates back millions of years; the species Theobroma cacao is likely just be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. The International Germplasm Database of Cacao includes about 12,500 cacao clones; the three leading varietals are Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Their differences result from their pod structure, the color of their beans and the number of beans per pod.
* The Criollo varietal is the cacao that was grown by the Mesoamerican civilizations; it is still the predominant cacao of Central and northern South America. The beans are thick and have white or pink cotyledons, low acid levels and low bitterness. The processed beans produce a smooth, very flavored cacao. However, the trees have low yields and are susceptible to disease. It has been estimated as comprising from 5% to .1% of the world