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Tropical New World tree (Theobroma cacao) of the chocolate family (Sterculiaceae). Its seeds, after fermentation and roasting, yield cocoa and chocolate. Cocoa butter is extracted from the seed. The tree is grown throughout the wet lowland tropics, often in the shade of taller trees. Its thick trunk supports a canopy of large, leathery, oblong leaves. The small, foul-smelling, pinkish flowers are borne directly on the branches and trunk; they are followed by the fruit, or pods, each yielding 20–40 seeds, or cocoa beans.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cacao, visit Britannica.com.