Top Ten Amazing Fruits that Grow in Weird Ways
The cacao tree is native to the Americas. It may have originated in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, current day Colombia and Venezuela, where today, examples of wild cacao still can be found. Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the equator.
Immature cocoa pods have a variety of colours but most often are green, red, or purple, and as they mature their colour tends towards yellow or orange, particularly in their creases. Unlike most fruiting trees, the cacoa pod grows directly from the trunk or large branch of a tree rather than from the end of a branch, similar to jackfruit. This makes harvesting by hand easier as most of the pods will not be up in the higher branches. The pods on a tree do not ripen together; harvesting needs to be done periodically through the year. Harvesting occurs between three and four times weekly during the harvest season. The ripe and near-ripe pods, as judged by their colour, are harvested from the trunk and branches of the cocoa tree with a curved knife on a long pole. Care must be used when cutting the stem of the pod to avoid damaging the junction of the stem with the tree, as this is where future flowers and pods will emerge. It is estimated that one person can harvest 650 pods per day.
In general cocoa is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart anti aging properties. Cocoa also contain a high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects on health.