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a genus of evergreen trees of the family Stercu-liaceae. The plants are found in the lower layer of tropical rain forests in Central and South America. The leaves are simple and entire. The inflorescences of small pentamerous bisexual flowers are characterized by cauliflory—that is, they develop on short shoots on the trunk and large branches. The ovate or elongate fruit has numerous seeds. The fruit of many species has edible pulp, and the seeds are used to produce cocoa and chocolate.
The species having the greatest economic significance is the chocolate tree, or cacao (T. cacao), which is 4–8 m tall. The yellow, orange, or reddish fruits reach 30 cm in length and 10–12 cm in diameter; they weigh 300–600 g and contain 25 to 60 seeds. The chocolate tree has been cultivated since ancient times in many tropical countries. Optimum conditions for its cultivation are a uniform annual precipitation of 2,000–5,000 mm and a mean annual temperature no lower than 21°C. The chocolate tree is propagated by seeds, cuttings, or grafts. It begins to bear fruit in the fourth or fifth year and attains peak productivity in the tenth year. The plant may be grown successfully in hothouses.
REFERENCESSiniagin, I. I. Tropicheskoe zemledelie. Moscow, 1968.
Zhukovskii, P. M. Kul’tumye rasteniia i ikh sorodichi, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1971.
S. S. MORSHCHIKHINA